Book reviews: Farewell to Jorg Ancrath

Finished the last two books in Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire series. Dark, gritty, and highly recommended!

King of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #2)King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jorg Ancrath, I just can’t quit you!

Mark Lawrence has done it again with book 2 of the Broken Empire series. Jorg is back, a little more grown up and mature, but still the same Jorg we grew to know and love (or despise at times) in Prince of Thorns. Only now the stakes are higher and Jorg seems to have developed a bit of a conscience. Loved the switching between past and present and the mystery of the box. And I have to say I cheered a bit at the end. Can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Emperor of Thorns (Broken Empire, #3)Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Don’t think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.

Follow me, and I will break your heart.”

Oh, yes, I would follow you, Jorg, but only because I’d be afraid not to.

Mark Lawrence has done it again with Emperor of Thorns, the conclusion of the Broken Empire trilogy. Jorg has matured a bit in this last book. He’s married, he’s going to be a father (lots of good reflections on fatherhood in this book), and he seemed a lot more introspective this time around. Maybe it’s because his goal of becoming emperor is within sight, and either he wins or he dies. And it breaks your heart a little because Jorg doesn’t sugar coat anything. Don’t get me wrong, the impulsive, brutal Jorg is still here, and every time you think maybe he’s changed, bam–he’s back into Jorg mode and blood will be spilled. But he understands what he’s done and in this book we see the depths of his pain, even as he makes no excuses for his actions.

I won’t give any spoilers, but we do see more of the empire in this book, more Katherine and Miana (imagine being stuck in a carriage with the two of them!), and more of the mysterious Builders.

When I was about 91% finished I had to stop and put it aside for a little while. Not because I’d lost interest, but because I was sure that things were going to go really badly for Jorg. I wanted desperately for him to find some peace or a tiny bit of happiness. You’ll have to read the book to find out if he does, but I will say that the ending took me by surprise and blew me away. It was perfect. Jorg has definitely taken a place as one of my favorite fantasy characters. And I’m sure if he had his way he’d pick off the other contenders one by one.

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New release: Sacrificed by Courtney Farrell

Sacrificed, book 2 in Courtney Farrell’s Enhanced Series, is out!


At the Institute, they breed the best and kill the rest. Sixteen-year-old Michelle is a survivor, but she’s a pawn in their game. A remote arctic military base mysteriously goes silent. The Institute’s founder needles his old enemy, the colonel, by sending teenagers to help. Michelle’s half-breed boyfriend Dillon makes the team, along with her hot ex, who won’t give her up. At the base, Norms attack. The rebels capture Michelle, but they’re not the brutal savages she imagined. Their cause is a just one. Will she take up arms against her own kind?

Meanwhile, Dillon faces his own temptations. As a half-breed, he’d never succeed at Headquarters, but military doctors think he’s special. The colonel offers him a sweet deal, with money, status, and beautiful girls. All Dillon has to do is wipe out the Norms who are harboring Michelle.

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Don’t screw this up, Michelle told herself. Get so much as a scratch, and they’ll never let you outside Institute walls again. Her backpack leaned on the wall, ready to go, if Dillon would ever show up. She checked the time and flopped back on her bed with a groan.

Heavy footsteps bounded up the stairs. Michelle sat up, her blue eyes narrowed. “About time, Dillon. You’re thirty minutes—”

Brian walked through the door instead, flashing a grin that rocked her world. “He’s late? Might as well get used to it. Norms are never on time.”

Brian hasn’t been here since . . . that night . . . before I met Dillon. He looks so different. Despite Institute regulations, he hadn’t cut his hair since his exile in the Warren. Loose blond locks brushed his broad shoulders. Between his scores and his mother’s rank, he got away with a lot.

Michelle tried to stop staring and say something coherent. “So, you came to say goodbye? I’ll only be gone a week.”

Brian smirked. “What, and waste these brand-new camping clothes?”

Michelle’s stomach did a flip. “Are you saying they’re sending you? With me…and Dillon? Isn’t that going to be…”

“Awkward?” Brian’s smirk grew into a huge grin. “Oh, yeah.”

Michelle felt like all the air had rushed out of the room. “How could they do that to us?”

“Apparently your mother isn’t comfortable sending you off alone with your Norm boyfriend.”

“Half Norm,” Michelle corrected, making a sour face at her disturbingly hot ex.

“I’m not judging you. It’s just kind of sudden, that’s all. And I thought…you know… you and me, we were just getting started.” Brian sat down on the bed, surprising Michelle with a kiss on the mouth that sent tingles through her lower belly.

“Mmm. Don’t do that.”

“Hey, relax.” Brian gently turned her chin toward him, cupping her cheek in his hand. His brown eyes held her gaze. “I’m not mad. Go have your fun. Come on back when it’s over.”

“That’s awfully Enhanced of you, Brian,” Michelle whispered. “And I mean that. Look, I…I’m sorry my mother dumped this job on you. This is going to be weird for us both.”

“Only if we let it.”

Brian’s fingers traced lightly over Michelle’s hair. Without really meaning to, she tilted her head into his hand and closed her eyes.

He doesn’t get it. The Enhanced swap partners all the time, but Norms bond for life. I can never break up with Dillon. It would kill him.

Brian leaned in close, letting his lips tickle her ear. “I know, you think you trapped yourself. But those backward rules don’t apply to us. I’d never try and own you like he does. It’s uncivilized.”

About Courtney:

Courtney author picCourtney Farrell is a biologist who turned her love of books into a career as an author. After publishing fourteen nonfiction books for young people, she began writing fiction. Her ‘Enhanced’ series has been nominated for the 2015 BTS Red Carpet Award in the YA division. Courtney lives with her husband and sons on a Colorado ranch where they enjoy a menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, and chickens.

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Interview with a vampire author

Critique partner and friend Vic Brown is riding high on the recent publication of his first novel, Vampire Resurrection. If you are a vampire fan, you will want to check out a new and interesting take on the genre. Vic was kind enough to do an author interview, but first let’s find out about his book.


Lamar Bradford, wealthy owner of Coleson Manor, is a third generation offspring of a polluted blood line, and the gene for vampirism that he carries in his DNA has just been triggered. Morgan Summers, a 325-year-old vampire, who was forced to watch her mother pressed to death as a witch in Salem Village in 1692, is searching for the key to mortality. Lamar has it, but it comes at a high price. Stalked by a sinister and clandestine arm of the Roman Catholic Church—the Order of the Vampire Final Solution–the OVFS has tracked down and killed fifty-seven vampires since its inception in 1925. Morgan Summers is to be their fifty-eighth conquest, with Lamar soon to follow. But there is hope. Dr. James Heller, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science is also Director of Harvard’s Genetics Laboratory. Heller’s scientists are desperately working on a gene-splicing technique that would provide resurrection for vampires—a return to mortality and humanity. Will Lamar and Morgan defeat the OVFS and those trying to destroy them? But more importantly, can a secret resurrection project succeed to save others trapped by the vampire gene?

Buy it on Amazon

Author Interview

Q: Where were you born? Are you the kind of person who likes to move around a lot, or do you prefer to live in one place?

A: I was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Silver Spring, MD from the age of four until age twenty-two. During a 30-year career in the USAF, I moved a lot, but since retiring, have lived in three locations in Maryland and for the last three years, we have lived in Williamsburg, VA (for our “Fourth Trimester”).

Q: What sparked your interest in writing? How long have you been writing?

A: I wrote my first fiction—a short story—in the 6th grade and have loved to write ever since. I have written 72 articles for publication in a monthly jazz club newsletter, a lifetime of non-fiction during my USAF career, a filing drawer crammed with short stories, a novella, three novels, a memoir and various other bits. Am working on another novel, the sequel to one published in March 2015—Vampire Resurrection (available at AMAZON). I have been writing for over 60 years.

Q: Your novel, Vampire Resurrection, describes a unique take on vampires. Why vampires?

A: After a vineyard full of rejections, I decided to go against the “rules” and write to the market. Vampires form a strong nitch market. I had read or watched very little vampire-related material, but I chanced to read a long article on gene-splicing in the Health and Science section of the Washington Post and the idea for a novel flashed through me. Vampires who wanted to become normal, mortal human beings through having their DNA altered. I tried the opening chapter and was enroute to creating a completely new approach to vampirism.

Q: How long did it take you to finish it? How many drafts did you write before you were satisfied?

A: It took me about six months to create the first draft. Critiquing, editing, rewriting took almost another year. I worked on each chapter as if it was a standalone work, so it is hard to put a number to how many drafts I created before it went to press.

Q: How would you describe your path toward publication?

A: Long, meandering, frustrating, and challenging! One of the significant factors in the game is LUCK. I attended a course in writing in Virginia Beach. The literary agent and CEO of High Tide Publications, Inc. attended. They offered to listen to “elevator pitches,” and I pitched both of them. They asked for my first three chapters, then the whole novel (which wasn’t quite finished yet). They sent me a contract and I was graduated from writer to published author. I was glad I had not self-published my vampires.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

A: Aspiring writers are inundated with advice, and I hesitate to try to add anything. But for those who are not trying to make a living from their writing I would add this to their pile of advice: Never lose your love of writing because of the process. Getting published is not the be-all or end-all of life. Creativity is. So be creative. Have a large basket at hand, and fill it with faith. During your journey, ENJOY, work hard on the craft, practice telling stories, and try your hand at poetry— at least read some. A dash of poetry in your work is like a dash of nutmeg on a pumpkin pie. Mingle with writers/editors as often as possible. Their good stuff can and will rub off on you.

Q: Name a few authors who have inspired you and describe why.

A: Favorite authors. First, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series for everything: plotting, characterization, research, dialogue, love scenes, you name it. Next, Jean Auel’s series beginning with The Clan of the Cave Bear for her extraordinary creativity, the treatment of animals, prolific sex scenes, and the brilliance of her fictional world, and C. S. Forrester for his series, Horatio Hornblower. He is the Father, the Dean, the best of the storytellers of adventures at sea in the 18th and very early 19th centuries.

Q: What are you currently writing?

A: I am currently writing the sequel to Vampire Resurrection. The working title is Vampire Renaissance.

Q: Coffee, tea, or hard liquor? (or all three?)

A: Coffee by the gallon. Distilled spirits (sounds better than “hard liquor”) as a reward after a long, hard day at the parchment, quill in hand.

Q: What books are you currently reading or on your to-be-read list?

A: The two on top of a tall, quivering pile: The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell (another favorite author!), and Duty, by Robert M. Gates (non-fiction).

Q: And now for the bonus fluff question: If you could be a character in your one of your favorite novels, which character would you be and why?

A: If I could be a character in one of my favorite novels, who would I choose? I shall interpret your question as pertaining to a novel that I have written. And that would be Yost. (I only gave him the one name.) He was a knight in the year 1402. I selected him for his cunning, his courage, and his wise choice of a woman. My favorite genre is Historical Fiction (not vampires). I have written a novella and two novels in the HF genre.

About Vic:

Vic BrownBorn in Washington, D.C., Charles V. Brown wrote his first fiction short story in the fifth grade. He still has it; in fact, it is reproduced in his as-yet-to-be-published memoir, Sleeve an’ Me.
For years a dabbler in fiction, he allowed a thirty year Air Force career and an advanced degree, along with raising two daughters, three horses, breeding English Setters, playing innumerable Dixieland Jazz gigs, and a tour in Nam to get in the way of writing. His second novel, Viking Lady, won grand prize in the Maryland Writer’s Association’s annual novel contest, and then he got serious about writing.  After seventy-two years as a Marylander, Vic and Jenny moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, and rescued a cat–Crickett (with two ts!).  Vic still plays jazz and writes and critiques and basks in the warmth of a mighty-nice place to live: Windsor Meade.

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Re-release of Speak of the Devil by Shawna Romkey

Shawna Romkey is re-releasing her novel, Speak of the Devil. Love the new cover! She’s having a party on her Facebook page with prizes, so come join the fun:

Speak of the Devil
By Shawna Romkey
Book one in the Speak of the Devil series

After dying with her two best friends in a tragic car accident, Lily comes back to life only to wind up in the middle of a war between good and evil at a time when God has disappeared.

What happens when falling in love and falling from grace collide?

After dying in a car accident with her two best friends, Lily miraculously awakens to grief and guilt. She escapes to her dad’s to come to terms with the crash and meets some people at her new school who seem all too eager to help her heal. Sliding deeper into sorrow and trying to fight her feelings for two of them, she finds out who…what they really are and learns they are falling too.

Can she find the strength to move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, figure out a way to stop a divine war with fallen angels, and still pass the eleventh grade?

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About Shawna Romkey

Shawna grew up around farms in the heart of Missouri but went to the University of Kansas, was raised in the US but now lives on the ocean in Nova Scotia with her husband, two sons, one rescue dog and one overgrown puppy from hell. She’s a non-conformist who follows her heart.

She’s taught English at the university and secondary levels for close to twenty years and can’t quite fathom how all of her students have grown up, yet she’s managed to stay the same.  She’s a huge geek and fan of Xena, Buffy and all kick ass women, and loves to write stories that have strong female characters.


Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  | Pinterest  |  Goodreads

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Ghosts of Modern Magics by Maer Wilson

Check out this great boxed set of novelettes from Maer Wilson!

Ghosts box set 600

Ghosts of Modern Magics

Before magic returned to Earth in the Modern Magics novels, Thulu and La Fi’s clients were usually the dead. The Ghost novelettes detail a few of their more memorable cases.

“Ghost Memory” – An amnesiac ghost hires Thulu and La Fi to find missing money from his home for his aging husband.

“Unwanted Ghost” – The couple inherits a furnished Victorian, complete with its own noisy ghost.

“Ghost Dancer” – Young Danika asks Thulu and La Fi to save her dog from the killer who murdered her.

“Wedding Ghost” – Just before their own wedding, the detectives are hired to find out what happened to another bride ninety years before.


“Lost Ghost” tells the story of eleven-year-old Thulu and Fiona’s first case.

This collection also includes samples from the Modern Magics novels – Relics, Portals and the upcoming Magics.

This collection is currently on sale at Amazon.

Ghosts of Modern Magics will be available soon from other online retailers. For updates or information about the rest of the Modern Magics series, please check Maer’s website.

Maer’s Bio

Maer AuthorAfter a successful career being other people, and later teaching others the many tricks of that trade, Maer Wilson has decided to be herself for a while. Turns out she’s a writer. She’s always loved stories, especially fantasy, mystery and sci fi. Maer was born in the Year of the Dragon and has a dragon-themed room in her home, but sadly no dragons in the back yard. When she’s not writing, Maer plays online video games, teaches college and reads. Maer is a partner in Ellysian Press, a small publishing house. She also co-hosts the literary podcast MythBehaving. Maer lives in the high desert of Southern Nevada with her three dogs, a chihuahua and two poodles.

Her books include Relics and Portals, Books 1 and 2 in the Modern Magics series. The upcoming third book in the series is Magics. There are also four novelettes in the series – “Ghost Memory,” “Unwanted Ghost,” “Ghost Dancer” and “Wedding Ghost.”. You can find all books and novelettes in the Modern Magics series at Amazon and other online retailers.

Where you can find her:


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