First Contact, In Her Name – Will You Want To Make Contact?

Book Review : First Contact
In Her Name

By Michael R. Hicks


Spoiler Alert!



Terran survey ship Aurora finds two habitable planets in an uncharted star system. But Aurora is disabled by gigantic alien warships and boarded by blue-skin females with fangs and claws. The warriors slaughter the crew in ritual one-on-one combat. The sole survivor is returned to Earth. This Messenger bears a real-time globe device that counts down to an impending attack.

That is the way of the Kreelan Empire. For centuries before man have they waged war, seeking a prophesied savior. Soon to be extinct, the ancient species wages their last war, hoping for redemption of sins long past. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

Here is a DNF (did not finish) review. I read about 35% of the book and will not pick it up again.I had received this book for free. I decided to read it based on others’ review, which were overwhelmingly positive. When I dread having to open up a book, that is not a good sign.  Here are my top reasons for not finishing the book (a prequel to the series):

  1. I was bored reading it. The first climax is at the beginning of the book where the aliens take over and destroy the Aurora. So far, the rest of the book has been about trying to convince earth and the other human inhabited planets that a deadly enemy is coming.
  2. I didn’t connect well to any of the people. This might actually be my number one reason for not liking the book. I predicted that Sato would be the one person to survive the alien attack. He had a little more depth. We had a view into his childhood with a loving, but disabled grandfather and a horrid, abusive father. Once he gets back to earth he becomes boring too. Everyone else was pretty flat.
  3. The language was offensive. I am sure if earth was going to be slaughtered by aliens there would be some pretty strong language, so, even though the foul language could be considered appropriate for the situation I felt like it was used for shock value. Characters would suddenly blurt out an expletive in the course of a normal conversation, it would make better sense to be screaming when faced with death.
  4. The aliens felt like I had met them before. It is very apparent that the aliens are working on a hive-like mentality, have a single leader with the ability to communicate instantaneously with her people and the lives of the “drones” are not valued. Does this not sound like the aliens Orson Scott Card wrote about? By the way, the aliens are blue women, and similar in physiology to humans. A matriarchal alien society might automatically sound like bees regardless of what else the author writes.

I cannot recommend this book, and I really hate having to say so many negative things about a book I didn’t even finish. If you finished the book, or series and loved it, I would love to hear your thoughts. I wish I hadn’t made contact!

1 out of 5 stars


My go to for science fiction has always been the classic Foundation series by Asimov and short stories by Ray Bradbury.  I remember reading a book in college, Inherit the Stars by James P. Hogan that I loved, but I haven’t picked it up in years.

A recent ebook that I thought was fun, though not of literary merit, was The Phoenix Conspiracy by Richard Sanders.

I would recommend just about anything over this book.

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The Forbidden Stone, The Copernicus Legacy – Does The Past Draw In Readers?

Book Review : The Forbidden Stone
                       The Copernicus Legacy

By Tony Abbott

Spoiler Alert!



The Copernicus Legacy has everything middle-grade readers love-an international adventure, a compelling friendship story, and a mission that draws on history and astronomy. Readers who loved Percy Jackson will be eager to follow our heroes on this six-book, six-novella journey and excited to enter a sweepstakes to participate in a real-life scavenger hunt hosted by Tony Abbott that lets the reader become part of the story.

It all began when four friends-Wade, Lily, Darrel, and Becca – received a strange, coded email from Wade’s uncle Henry shortly before the old man’s sudden death. They set off for Germany to attend the funeral with Wade’s father, Roald, and discover that Uncle Henry left them yet another baffling message that they suspect is the key to figuring out how and why he died.

The message leads to a clue, and the more clues they discover, the farther they travel down a treacherous path toward an ancient, guarded secret. Soon they are in a breathless race across the globe, running for their lives as a dangerous shadow organization chases them around every corner. Their only hope of saving themselves-and the world that they know-is to find twelve magical relics from a hidden past that will unlock the Copernicus Legacy.
(Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

I am behind in writing reviews! I read The Forbidden Stone a few weeks ago. Overall I had a good impression of the book and would recommend it for a young audience, approximately from 11-14 years old. This is a book that should cross over to either gender.

One point I am always concerned about, is the amount of violence in children’s books. The Forbidden Stone has characters who die, and are threatened with death. We know that someone was killed in an elevator accident, but the reader is not led through a murder, step by gruesome step. The villain is a disturbing because she is so young; described as being only a few years older than the four protagonists. In the first book we don’t know her background, but it is sure to be a stunning revelation. The book is not overtly violent.

I am always interested in the characters. Wade and Darrel are step-brothers, and they are best friends, though very different from each other. Wade is “nerdy” and loves science and the stars. Darrel is always hungry (like many teen boys) and seems like he could almost be a hippy. I have had a harder time distinguishing between Lily and Becca, but I was reading fast and just keep mixing them up and which one Wade has a crush on. I really like how Wade’s father has stayed in the book, rather than having teen children rushing all over the world by themselves. He seems cautious and has just been sucked in to the adventure because of circumstances and his love of science.

I also like the historical references. Wouldn’t it be cool if Copernicus had made a time-machine? Even if there isn’t evidence of such an amazing break through the novel includes facts about the development of science and math which are accurate. The descriptions of places in Germany and Italy also seemed very authentic.

The plot is fairly straight forward, in that, they need to find the clues to the relics before the villains can obtain the precious pieces to use Copernicus’s machine for their own evil uses. Because The Forbidden Stone is aimed at a middle-grade audience, the plot isn’t nearly as important as the execution. Abbott moves the plot along quickly. It has lots of action, puzzles and near misses. He includes the ingredients for a novel that his audience will want. There are no questionable scenes with kissing to put off young readers. All the romance in book one is just the embarrassed “liking” of one another as experienced in middle-school.

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • Michelle

If you enjoyed The Forbidden Stone, my sons would recommend the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans (though, honestly it wasn’t my favorite), and I would recommend  Schooled by Gordon Korman for a humorous read, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld for an adventure mixed with an alternate universe and Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers for a combination of humor, adventure and history (with no romance at all).

For a slightly older audience check out the Relic Master series by Catherine Fisher.

And if they haven’t read Harry Potter, try to convince this young generation to read it and not just watch the movies! It seems only fair to read this series when it changed children’s literature.

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Caraval – Is It A Game Worth Playing?

Book Review : Caraval

By Stephanie Garber

Spoiler Alert!



Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.
(Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

I was interested to see how Caraval compared to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The similarities lie in the fact that both are a carnival or circus with performers and there is underlying dark magic.  Caraval is written in a linear fashion rather than jumping around in time and place, such as Morgenstern deployed in her novel. It is not an entirely fair comparison because I loved The Night Circus, and so, I have tried to see Caraval for its own merits as a young adult novel.

On the jacket cover synopsis the opening lines read:

A legendary competition.
A mesmerizing romance.
An unbreakable bond
between two sisters.


It’s important to remember that one of the themes is the bond between sisters because the two girls have very little time together through the course of the story. However, Scarlett is always thinking about her sister as though Tella’s presence follows her everywhere. I do not have a sister, so I can’t comment on their relationship from experience. I do understand the desire to protect a younger sibling. I believe Scarlett is an extreme example of self-sacrifice. The Alan Bradley series with Flavia, (the first book is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) has a different take on the relationship with sisters – in this case they bother, humiliate and fight viscously with one another. I find their relationship very easy to identify with because I’ve watched siblings hate each other, but protect their sibling from other’s derision.

Scarlett acts and reacts according to what she believes other people’s thoughts would be. Her actions are dictated by her father, her sister, Julian, Legend and her fiance. There are a few moments when she recognizes that she needs to be able to live her own life, though it takes most of the story for her to find some peace with her own decisions. In ways, Caraval is a coming of age story for Scarlett.

Caraval is fairly dark. There is murder, affairs (without details) and betrayal. As a game, it intentionally plays with people’s emotions as though they won’t be required to live with the consequences of their actions. Julian is an anti-hero in many ways. He continually warns Scarlett away from him. He alludes to his past crimes or sins, and feels that he shouldn’t be forgiven. Julian spews out half-truths laced with lies.

“I came her to find Legend and avenge my sister. My relationship with you was meant to end right after you got me into the game. So, yes, I haven’t been completely honest about things, but, I swear, I am not Legend.” (p. 237)

Can you guess where the truth lies in this statement? I would never fully be able to trust Julian with his track record of slippery statements.

This is really minor, but it bothered me when Donatella (Tella) shortens Scarlett’s name to Scar. First, Scar doesn’t sound like a reference to a girl, but rather a pirate – or a particular Disney lion. Second, when the name Scar was used it broke my rhythm in reading because it was so harsh. Third, perhaps the author meant for it to be harsh to remind us that she had hidden scars. She references scars on her body from her father, and she has emotional scars. I still would not have shortened her name to Scar. How about Lettie instead? Or, just Scarlett since Julian teases her by calling her Crimson.

A final note, is that many new authors wrap up everything very tightly in their novels. It is a matter of preference if you, as a reader, like all the lose ends tied up. I personally prefer a bit of a mess because it feels more like real life. Garber gives us a “happy” ending with some mystery at the end. Loose ends are tied up and resolved to my dissatisfaction. I would like to not know more about Legend, but leave him more elusive. If I rewrote that part it would change the motivation of other characters, so….

There are plenty of steamy scenes, but without explicit details. The language seemed pretty clean, especially under such trying circumstances. There is abuse by a parent of his daughters which may bother some readers. I would not recommend this book for young teens!

I have waffled on the number of stars for this book, because I enjoyed it and read it quickly. I liked the descriptions, but I had a hard time feeling fully vested in the characters. It is not the typical dystopian with a love triangle, thankfully.

I will want to read another book by Stephanie Garber.

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • Michelle

I have not had the opportunity to interview Stephanie at this point, but I enjoyed her interview with Books, Inc.

If you enjoyed Caraval I would recommend Trick of the Eye by Dennis Haseley, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones and Black Flowers, White Lies  By Yvonne Ventresca.

And it might seem obvious, but I would definitely recommend The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

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The Silent Shield – Who Can You Trust?

Book Review: The Silent Shield
The Kingfountain series #5

By Jeff Wheeler

Spoiler Alert!



Thrust into the heart of events threatening to rip her kingdom apart, young Trynne Kiskaddon will gain new powers and sees old allies fall and new heroes rise as the battle for the kingdom and the lands beyond begins.

Courtly intrigue and rumors of invasion plunge Kingfountain into turmoil as the search for Trynne’s father begins in earnest. But Trynne’s quest to learn the truth of Owen’s sinister disappearance is sidetracked when tragedy strikes her family once again. Suddenly, the future of the kingdom rests in her hands as she struggles to learn—and control—the power that can keep the threatening Deep Fathoms at bay.

When King Gahalatine unleashes his overwhelming forces against the realm, Trynne must draw on her political instincts, warrior training, and Fountain-blessed magic if she hopes to survive the chaos to come. But a final, epic confrontation will force Trynne into an unimaginable choice: save her kingdom and the lives of her people, or lose the one who means more to her than life itself. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

Since Jeff Wheeler kindly gave me an early copy I’m trying to be extra good about not giving out spoilers in this review.

Through the entire series I have liked how each book resolves a number of problems even though new problems crop up. I never have felt like I’m just being strung along. The Silent Shield has this same format. As you remember we were left on tenterhooks from The Hollow Crown that Owen has been kidnapped and King Drew has been given a year respite from the war because of this unexpected treachery by King Gahalatine. Another piece of intrigue that remained was the question of who could be trusted; Fallon or Morwenna, or neither.

Another aspect I’ve enjoyed through the series are the monologues, or interludes, by a “mystery” character. This literary device works well to see some of the events from a different perspective. It’s also fun to sleuth out who is speaking. You will immediately identify the character speaking in the little monologues inThe Silent Shield, and in this case, the reader will be happy to know the extenuating circumstances.

As always, I love the characters in the Kingfountain series. The protagonist, Tryneowy Kiskaddon (usually called Trynne) has come to accept her role as being chosen by the Fountain and she is dedicated to fulfilling the role of an Oath Maiden. I was happy to see that she has been tested in keeping those oaths. I did wish that I had felt her struggle a little more with resisting the temptation to kill for revenge. She certainly had reasons to want to kill for revenge! The man who disfigured her would be a good example. Trynne is loyal, looks for the good in others and is faithful to the will of the Fountain. She also still suffers from some self-doubt; her achilles heel. She continues in her role as a Lancelot as a fierce protector of her king, the epitome of a King Arthur.

Iago Fallon Llewellyn is steadier and has grown from his experiences. I liked him more as a person this time around and feel a little sad that he and Trynne will not get to marry (as stated in the last book by Sinia, Trynne’s mother). Elwis is another character who has grown into his role and learned to be more humble and patient. I hope something good comes for him in the last book.

Morwenna Argentine has never been a character that I can fully trust. How can I when she is named so similarly to Morgan le Fay, who was Arthur’s downfall in the Arthurian legends? Nevertheless, there continues to be more to her than meets the eye? How does she relate to Owen as her father’s daughter? What does she feel her place should be in the world? She obviously wants to be respected, much like Fallon seeks. It’s interesting to see how Fallon and Morwenna approach the problem of wanting respect differently.

In the last book we saw a very small slice of King Gahalatine, that he wanted to be the benevolent emperor for the world. In The Silent Shield we get to see more of Gahalatine. He is interesting because he is obviously misguided, manipulated and is actually a decent human being. He believes he is doing what is right. He see the good in Trynne as well as some of the rulers of nations who have opposed him. In the long run, I felt like Gahalatine was listening to others which made him very unusual.

The Kingfountain series is excellent for young adults and adults because it is clean, it has influences from history and legends and has excellent writing. I also recommend it because it has plenty of twists, but isn’t so convoluted that new readers to fantasy will be overwhelmed. If a book doesn’t have great characters I quickly lose interest. Wheeler does such a great job with his characters I always want to read more.

In keeping with his style, there is a big pow at the end. I can hardly wait for the next book, thankfully it will be out in just a few months!

(I’m always torn, is this a 5 out of 5 stars because I love it so much?  Or is it still a 4 out of 5 stars by my original rating system. I’m leaning to changing the entire series to 5 out of 5 stars because the characters are so amazing!)

5 out of 5 stars
5 star


If you have enjoyed Wheeler as an author I would highly recommend reading A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr and The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I am confident that you will love their books.

A few older books to try would include The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede, Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.

Another Arthurian tale that I recommend is Merlin, The Lost Years by T. A. Barron.


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Interview with Jeff Wheeler – Author of The Kingfountain series

Interview with Jeff Wheeler
Author of The Kingfountain series



Hello Jeff,

I appreciate you being willing to do this interview with me.

I found The Queen’s Poisoner to read on my kindle, and was delighted with Owen. I can just imagine him setting up his tiles to fill his wells of power. I have continued with reading the entire series and look forward to every additional scrap you write about the Kingfountain world. I’m happy to add you to my list of favorite authors that I recommend to colleagues, friends and strangers.



When did you decide your calling was to write books rather than work at Intel?


It actually started before Intel. I got the writing bug in high school and had always dreamed of making it a day job. There were a lot of people in my life who didn’t think it was very practical, so I kept working on other careers. When I made the decision to leave Intel to write full-time, friends there thought I was crazy. But I haven’t regretted the decision once and love doing what I’d always dreamed of doing.


I think of the three key ingredients in a great fantasy novel to be world building, plot and characters. What are your key ingredients when you write?


For me, it’s the characters, plot, and tension. The world building, in my view, helps establish the first two and is the glue that holds things together. But I seriously like to torture my characters because it’s tension that keeps readers flipping the pages and staying up way too late at night. And for there to be tension, the characters have to go through difficult times. That’s how Queen’s Poisoner started, right? A young boy being sent as a hostage to a ruthless king. It’s ripe for tension.


You’re right! I stayed up way too late reading! I was instantly vested in Owen’s well being when he was unjustly sent to the ruthless king.

I love how you use tension as one of your keys, and you’re correct because without the tension why would we keep reading?

Owen was one of my favorite characters because he is so serious, but remains charming. Owen, as well as the other characters, in the  Kingfountain series are multi-dimentional. King Severn is savage, and yet I felt some empathy for him. How do you craft such realistic characters at so many different ages?


Writers are notoriously people watchers. As I mentioned in my author’s notes, Owen was based in part on my little boy. When you live with someone day in and out, you get to know them and see their mannerisms and traits. Severn will be a favorite of mine because I spent a lot of time in college studying Richard III. There are still controversies about him as a king. The more you get to know the details and not a condensed paragraph, the more you see that people are complex and driven by circumstances and motives. It’s the same for my characters. When I introduce someone in a scene, even if it’s just a throwaway character, I try to base them on someone specific to help make it feel more real. If a reader buys into that reality, I’ve done my job.



(The Thief’s Daughter continues to develop great characters like Owen and King Severn. If you don’t cry you are too hard hearted!)


(In The King’s Traitor may think you know what is coming, but I promise you will be surprised!)

How often do your characters reflect characteristics of people you know, such as your admiration for the young woman you associated with who had bells palsy?

She is now immortalized in The Hollow Crown! What a cool gift from a friend.




As of now, she doesn’t even know she’s in my books. The young woman is currently serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (and speaking Spanish, too!) in the Washington DC area and I didn’t want to distract her from her duties. I gave a signed copy to her parents and asked that they hold it for her until she returns in a few more months. Can’t wait to hear about her reaction though. But back to your question. Yes, all authors base elements of their characters on people we know or conjure hybrids to protect the innocent/guilty. Some people I know have cameo’s in my books (like Kevan Amrein, for example) and they know about it and are honored to be featured. Others have no idea that they exist in my fiction. I try not to be malicious about it, but it goes back to the people-watching comment from your last question. Sometimes you just meet someone and think their larger than life personality would make for a great character in a book. It’s the small characteristics that make people unique and memorable. In my next book coming out, THE SILENT SHIELD, one of my previous Intel bosses gets to be featured. He’s a great friend and leader. I wanted to immortalize him too.


(The Silent Shield will be released Aug 22, 2017!)


To continue talking about characters, I also love Trynne, Owen’s oldest child. I appreciate how she is a strong female protagonist, but she isn’t an expert in every form of combat and is often filled with self doubt. Archery seems like a more natural weapon for women.

As you just mentioned Richard III was a model for King Severn, and you have used the War of the Roses as inspiration.  At what point do you know you need to depart from an historical event to delve into a new arc in your narrative?


The answer is the main reason I write fantasy and not historical fiction. I don’t like being constrained by what actually happened. It’s the “what if” that intrigues me. The Kingfountain series began with the thought of: “What if Richard III won the battle of Bosworth Field?” I’ve studied the War of the Roses for a long time and while the battle began the Tudor dynasty and all of its interesting flairs, what would have happened if the Plantagenets went on? First of all, I had to resurrect Stiev Horwath’s character, because his counterpart in the real world died at the battle. He’s actually one of my ancestors, but that’s a different story. So I did change events to suit my needs. As I researched early Tudor history while writing Thief’s Daughter, for example, I had to come up with an explanation for the Perkins Warbeck situation. This was where one of the supposed murdered princes shows up and leads a revolt against the Tudors. That made for some great emotional fodder for Thief’s Daughter. It also helped bring more Arthurian myths to the front. Henry Tudor named his firstborn Arthur because of the Dreadful Deadman prophecy. I didn’t even make that up. Back in the eary 1500s, people still believed that Arthur would return. As I read several histories of the time period, it provided so many rich details that I wove into the Kingfountain world. I’m glad it’s really resonated with people.


I love both history and Arthurian legends! I’m so glad you have found the right mix in combining the two.

I cannot even express how happy I am that THE SILENT SHIELD is coming out and the final installment, THE FORSAKEN THRONE, just a few months later! I know there will be lots of tension and I’m grateful I won’t have to wait for the final book for an entire year. How have you managed to get the final two books out so quickly?


(The Forsaken Throne will be released, as the conclusion of The Kingfountain series, Nov. 14 2017)


I write at a very consistent pace. I’d learned years ago from an account of a car accident that Stephen King was in that he stopped writing for six months while he healed. When he started writing again, it took a long time and he realized that his creative “muscle” had atrophied because of the convalescence. I’ve experienced the same thing myself that when I stop writing, it takes time to get going again. To solve this problem, I take very short breaks in between writing books. That puts a burden on me when I’m editing the last book while writing the next, but I’ve made it work. The benefit is that I write 3-4 books a year and my readers don’t have to wait a long time in between them coming out. The publishing cadence is set by my publisher to maximize sales.


I think the publishers made a wise choice. Not only do I want to read the next two as soon as they are released, but I also want more!

I thought it was terrific to jump to the most politically charged events in the first four novels. Why did you determine that you would advance the Kingfountain series by skipping large blocks of time? And, as a follow up, it appears that the next two are more sequential in the life of Trynne – so, how did you choose to make that shift?


It was part of the pitch and proposal to have the large time gaps in the first three books. Let’s just say that this was a risky venture from the start. My publisher wasn’t too keen on a novel featuring such a young protagonist. Jumping many years between novels was another huge risk. I’m so grateful to have a publisher (47North) that was willing to take such risks with me. We talked about it and even brought my dev editor (the amazing Angela Polidoro) in early to get her reaction on the plot and characters and make sure the book would be satisfying to readers. Needless to say, the feedback from team and my early readers was incredibly positive. When my editor read the first draft of Queen’s Poisoner, he was so delighted that he nominated the book to be part of the Kindle First program, which contributed enormously to its success. I chose the time jumps in the first books to focus on the episodes of greatest tension. That was the primary driver behind the decision. In the second batch of Kingfountain books, there aren’t as many time jumps or as big. That’s because of the nature of the story and again, it’s to keep the tension high. This story is also based on an Arthurian legend with a smidge of revisionist history. It was a risk for my publisher to keep the series going because sales tend to drop after the third book of a trilogy. But I’m convinced that the fans of Kingfountain will keep coming back for more.

I’m convinced your fans will keep coming back for more too! I have really enjoyed the additional Aurthurian twist and Joan of Arc inspired character, Genette, the Maid of Donremy found in the prequel THE MAID’S WAR. I also enjoyed learning more of the background of Ankarette, since she is a lynch pin character in the series. Were you surprised at how she would be a link in the series, or was her character a plan from the beginning?  Was your plotting for the series a loose outline with room for surprises?


(You won’t want to miss the prequel, The Maid’s War! I read it as a bridge between the first three books in the series and the final three.)


Ankarette has been part of the story since day one and she is sort of the welding link between things. Which is why I’ve written another stand-alone Kingfountain story which will tell her origin story. Those who know the details of the War of the Roses will especially love it, but it will also bring back many characters that are known and/or feared from the first series. It’s called THE POISONER’S ENEMY and will be launched in January. It basically shows how Ankarette started out and how she ended up working to protect the family.


I’ve enjoyed Ankarette as a character because she is sensitive which contrasts sharply with her profession as an assassin for her queen. I will be first in line to read THE POISONER’S ENEMY.

As a rule I don’t cry over fictional characters, though there are some notable exceptions. I always cry over Jean Valjean in Hugo’s Les Miserables. I have also cried over both Owen being thwarted over his love interest with the precocious Evie and the self-sacrificing Genette. As an author I hope you feel like you have scored a point if readers are that vested in the people you have created that they end up in tears.


Yes, I love to hear that my books have impacted people emotionally. I felt like crying when I first read ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA by Terry Brooks as a teenager. I wanted to write books that made people feel. When I succeed, that’s a good thing.


As a teen I read the Shannara books too! It was one of the key series that got me hooked on fantasy, along with The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkein and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Are there any hints you can share from the upcoming books, THE SILENT SHIELD or THE FORSAKEN THRONE, that won’t be a big spoiler?  I already know you like to torture the characters so I’m not expecting a romance for Trynne to go as she hopes.


I do not do spoilers, so don’t worry I won’t. Again, I’ve based this series on another obscure Arthurian legend. It’s a twist on it, so if people tried to find it, they wouldn’t be spoiled either. One of the things I really try to do as an author is to be unpredictable. I love it when I read books and can figure some things out, but not all. And I love being surprised. Believe me, I have some twists and turns coming up by the end of the series that no one will guess. If you think you know where I’m going with this story, hold on. Don’t jump to conclusions. The roller coaster isn’t over.


I can hardly wait to see what this obscure Arthurian legend will hold! I know your books well enough to know I will be surprised.

I really appreciate that in addition to your own writing you have been instrumental in DEEP MAGIC, The E-zine of Clean Fantasy and Science Fiction. What is your vision for DEEP MAGIC and how have you been able to collect such great talent in this undertaking?


I’m really turned off when I read fiction that is full of F-bombs, carnage, and gratuitous sex. As I’ve read the book reviews that readers leave, I’ve been struck over and over how many comment on the fact that my books don’t have these elements. So I realize that I’m not the only person who wants to enjoy a “clean read”. So I decided to resurrect my old e-zine Deep Magic and have managed to attract other authors who share similar standards. And by doing so, I’m promoting new authors who are selling their first stories into the market and encouraging others to do the same.


All the fans of the Kingfountain series will be anxious to know about your next project. Do you have it underway so we won’t be kept waiting?


Oh yes, I’m almost finished writing book 1 of a new 5-book series. This will be published after the Ankarette story in mid-2018. As to details, let’s just say that I’m breaking new ground again. I’ve never carried a plot thread this far before. There will be some elements of the magic that will seem familiar. Other elements will be new. But the setting is very new. There are flying cities in it. There are two protagonists who tell the story. I woke up this morning at 4:30AM because I couldn’t wait to start writing today. I’m nearly done with the first book, which does have a title, but I’m not cleared to announce it yet. Stay tuned at my blog for more announcements coming up!


Oooh, a flying city! That is an intriguing tid-bit, and a little cruel since now we have to wait for a new year. I can hardly wait!

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview. It’s been fantastic to get to know you better.



Thanks Michelle – glad the timing finally worked out. Pays to be persistent.


Readers, the Kingfountain series is ALL on sale until the end of August 2017 in the US Kindle store!  Only $2 a piece (except the unreleased books).

If you haven’t yet discover this series it is one of my all time favorites and I highly recommend it for all readers. It is a clean fantasy, complex and exciting. Give it a try today, maybe you’ll find you are among the Fountain Blessed! – Michelle

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The Pirates Of Pompeii – An Explosive Mystery

Book Review : The Pirates Of Pompeii
The Roman Mysteries

By Caroline Lawrence

Spoiler Alert!



It is late August of A.D. 79. The Roman world is reeling from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Hundreds of refugees are living in a makeshift camp, trying to come to terms with what has happened. Then even more tragedy strikes: the camp’s children begin to disappear. Flavia Gemina and her friends Jonathan, Nubia, and Lupus are determined to find out more and start to investigate a powerful and charismatic man known as the Patron. A dangerous trail leads them to the caves and grottoes of Sorrento, where they encounter pirates, slave dealers and possible death. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

I was surprised at the bits of brutality shown with the slavery in this book written for children. I was talking to my eleven year old, and he said that it’s part of history and so it should be in the book – and he is right. It’s a good opening for a dialogue with a class or your own children.

Here are some of the facts mentioned:

Eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Pompeii and the surrounding area were covered in thick ash, in places up to 20′ deep.
Titus was the commander who burned the temple in Jerusalem in about 70 A.D.
The Romans worshipped the pantheon of gods originally instituted by the Greeks.
Slavery was a practice under Roman law.
Roman children wore a special charm around their neck called a bulla.
Roman children drank watered down wine.
Slaves were crucified (though a runaway was more likely to be branded).
The Roman government feared a slave uprising.

Though The Pirates of Pompeii would be listed as historical fiction, there was a lot of liberty taken because so little information is available about non-political figures at that time. I believe it is a good way to help kids identify with history.

A few images of the remains of Pompeii:


Mosaic at a fish market


Wall painting from the Villa of the Mysteries


Plaster casts of people who died in Pompeii. Giuseppe Fiorelli developed the technique of filling the cavities with plaster of paris to create the forms of the figures in their dying moments. When the plaster dried, the ash was chipped away and the casts remained.

This book is aimed for the tween audience. It is the first that I’ve read and it was fine as a stand alone book, though it is apparently number 3 in the series.

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

This book reminded by of The Magic Tree House written for an older audience. My readers at this level have enjoyed the I Survived books and The Children’s Illustrated Classics (Count of Monte Cristo, Frankenstein, ect.) – if you can find them in a thrift shop.

Though not historical fiction, this age also loves the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans (and it’s more gruesome than The Pirates of Pompeii).

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