If I Should Die Before I Wake by Gabriel Boutros is a novella fantasy thriller about a hit man, his prey, and a most disturbing hunt.
Simon Wallis, a former gangster’s accountant caught embezzling from his unforgiving boss, runs for his life. Killer for hire Frank Burke, a sociopath with a predilection for Hawaiian beaches, tracks Simon. Nightmares plague both men in their desperate chase-and-elude game that ends in an unforgettable showdown in Montreal.
If I Should Die Before I Wake plunges the reader into a noir world of shadows and pursuit. From the start, Simon’s desperation and regret taste like a shot of rotgut whiskey whose burn lingers too long in the gut. When we see the story through Frank’s eyes, the sensual and entrepreneurial criminal oozes self-confidence. This professional killer is despicable and fascinating.
But the killer and quarry share reciprocal nightmares. Each man crumbles as the hunt draws to its close. In the end, the disturbing dreams merge in a most unexpected way.
Boutros spins a dandy thriller that greatly satisfies. If I Should Die Before I Wake left Lita uneasy, glancing over her shoulder before pouring another shot of rotgut to calm her nerves. Lita recommends this story for noir fans who love thrillers mixed with a touch of unsettling fantasy.
The Seventh Birthday Wish by Bruce E. Arrington and Florence Jayne is a fantasy picture book for ages 4-8 about Wesley and his magical adventure on his birthday.
In a faraway land lived Wesley, and when he turned four, a door without a handle appeared in his castle home. Wait he must until seven years old, when a door handle appeared on it and let him through. Beyond awaited an antechamber lined with many beguiling doors, but a special round portal beckoned him unlike all the others.
Kindly horses that fly—every child’s dream—gave Wesley a breathless ride. They whisked him away to visit an older boy. A problem awaited the lads, but the unexpected cause and their heartfelt solution was a delight.
The Seventh Birthday Wish is a lovely fantasy for grade school kids. The story took Lita back to a simpler time when she first found the enchanting worlds inside of books. Arrington’s rhymes, coupled with Jayne’s illustrations, made this charming story an absolute winner. A must read for fantasy fans of all ages, especially those young at heart.
Trials of Hallion Book 1: Two of Swords by Maria Greene is an epic fantasy about a New York office worker named Kate who battles evil sorcery in a fantasy land.
Kate McKnight inherits Liliath Cottage from her eccentric Aunt Mattie. Soon after she arrives in her aunt’s Scotland hometown, a magical door takes Kate into Hallion. There she embarks on a quest to overthrow an evil sorcerer named Kil Morgol, whose magic is poisoning the land. Helping Kate is Scotland native Jamie Kirkland, the current Earl of McAndrew. Problem is, Jamie has rejected the Old Art of his lineage and is ill prepared to help Kate.
Soon after arriving in Hallion, Kate receives a tarot card reading that identifies puzzling obstacles in her upcoming journey. But it’s clear that Kate and her allies must find hidden scepters and a mysterious artifact called the Drewander Codex to gather magic powerful enough to defeat Kil Morgol. His sinister magical taint is everywhere, even in the eavesdropping plants. Time is running out for Hallion.
Trials of Hallion Book 1: Two of Swords is awhirl with a hero’s journey icons. While tarot card symbols are a familiar fantasy technique, the story uses it well. Maria Greene has a deft hand at scattering unusual people in Kate’s journey. A surprise awaits the reader concerning an unexpected shape shifter. Lita recommends this story for fantasy fans who like a traditional tale mixed with the practicalities of a modern-day heroine.
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Note that the sidebar spell says “You are following this blog” if Gentle Reader already summoned the pigeons.
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This lovely Cheshire Cat of a feature hides under the “W” in the top left side of your browser. Log on to WordPress before you talk to the grinning cat.
Citizen Dead (The Harvest #1) by Kevin Anthony is a zombie horror short story about Roam, a twenty-something man who becomes one of the living dead.
Roam chokes one morning on his breakfast. Desperate for air, he drinks contaminated tap water. Bad choice. The recent worldwide pollution disaster raises the dead and makes them zombies.
Roam does what any recently dead young man who wakes up in the morgue would do. Our hero calls his best friend Slade, and then goes to work in a department store.
Although never turning into a farce, Citizen Dead (The Harvest #1) uses a light touch to describe the first day in the life of a dead man. Roam’s matter-of-fact explanation of why the media faked his death (which it did not—Roam had died) lent a refreshing mature point of view to the story’s hero.
The complications of dealing with a zombie that claimed his apartment, and the hometown residents struggling with the living dead infestation, make for an interesting read. A tip of the hat goes to Kevin Anthony for building a zombie fantasy world that avoids the “we eat brains” horror clichés.
The story does a good job introducing characters with distinct voices, and it was a pleasure finding people who used the zombie menace to fuel greed and revenge. Lita looks forward to reading more of Roam’s lively living dead adventures.
Delphinia’s Willow by Lana Axe is a fantasy short story about a forest dryad and her encounter with a wizard.
The willow dryad Delphinia awakes troubled one morning. She searches for the disruption that has unsettled her beloved forest.
Her investigations uncover an elf wizard whose careless spells has harmed the plants and animals. The dryad rages at his indifference to the woods, but the gentle willow spirit can do nothing to harm the magician. The wizard casts a spell to stun Delphinia and whisks her away.
He takes the kidnapped dryad to the stony city to auction off his prize to other magicians. But a horrible surprise awaits the arrogant wizard when the forest dryad escapes.
Delphinia’s Willow is a lovely little story that pits earth magic against wizardry. It reads like a cautionary tale for children, but adults would enjoy the dryad’s resolve to right a wrong and the unexpected outcome. The wizard’s fate is especially good for a smile. Lita looks forward to reading more tales from this talented fantasy author.
The Experiment by Cristian A. Solari is a début science fiction story about a galactic alien observer named Geb Saar who champions a fledgling race growing in a cosmos-sized petri dish.
Geb, a member of the super-intelligent Universe Confederation, agrees to transform his alien appearance so he may enter the restricted area of space called “The Experiment” and study firsthand the Preintelloids inside. These creatures surprise Geb. The Preintelloids have promise, but need more time for evolution to weed out their selfish natures.
Inside The Experiment, Iana the Space Program Director and her staff have secretly built a spaceship called Spora that has hyper drive. For the first time, Iana’s race can pierce the puzzling barrier surrounding their solar system. Perhaps they can confirm that they are not alone in the universe. Politics swirl, and Iana and her team launch Spora before the bureaucrats cut their funding.
The Spora crew does indeed find life on a far planet. The Universe Confederation is aghast at their presumptuousness. Geb’s people debate oh, so intelligently, and decide to end The Experiment as a failure. Geb disagrees. He begins a non-violent battle to change the Preintelloids, and his people’s intellectual bias, before all is lost.
The Experiment does a dandy job with world building. Instead of dwelling on technology’s swell gizmos in this science fiction world, the story immerses us in the cerebral dialogue of Geb’s people. The story is a wonderful example of showing, not telling, the reader about the Universe Confederation’s intelligence. The many characters were well-defined, had distinct voices, and varying concerns. The science made sense. The plot had enough twists to keep Lita reading to the end.
Solari’s story is a recommended read. If you dive in, be ready to work a bit to unravel its cleverness. Unusual, but precise terms from Geb’s people fill The Experiment. Some readers may not enjoy learning the vocabulary. But for those who stick around, expect rich rewards. The Experiment is a thoughtful treatise on politics, the universal struggle to become a better person, and humanitarianism from aliens.
The Girl Who Sang with Whales, IsleSong Book 1 by Marc Secchia, is an epic YA fantasy about a young woman named Zhisu and her coming of age story in a sea-faring world.
Zhisu lives with her mother on the outermost tiny island of their atoll group. On the far side of their spit of sand is The Deep, a stretch of sea that no one from her archipelago ever crosses. During an encounter with a huge whale during a routine fishing trip, Zhisu uses her marvelous singing voice to coax the whale into saving her drowning mother.
Her mother’s bittersweet passing leaves Zhisu deep in debt, so the young woman leaves her tiny island home to work off her expenses in the Grand Harbormaster’s employ on Germioi Atoll. Despite her unusual ocean-blue eyes, blond-white hair, and webbed toes called a Mermaid’s Foot, Zhisu settles in, makes friends, and lands smack in the middle of Conservatory politics. Her unusual singing voice marks her as a rare female Bard, one who might have a powerful talent to summon the largest whales to guide and protect ships from sea dragons.
Trouble brews. The Argalioi, conquerors who relish pain, threaten Zhisu’s world. Although they live across The Deep, the Argalioi raiding parties take what they wish and there is little that Zhisu’s people can do to withstand the attacks. Even worse, the Argalioi need Bards. They will stop at nothing to acquire these rare singers to guide their war ships.
The Girl Who Sang with Whales is a delightful fantasy. It is an immersive experience filled with descriptions ranging from island culture to the sea-centric idioms that fit this archipelago-filled world. Zhisu is a strong woman who strives to overcome her humble roots, but has a fetching modest nature that makes her an engaging heroine. Secchia has created a wonderful water world in The Girl Who Sang with Whales, and I can hardly wait to plunge into the sequel.
Magical mysticism and paranoia about the near-future Internet. What a delicious fantasy world!
Today Lita shares a recent excellent read about a young man who finds a magic stone and battles an ego-centric corporate mage who will destroy Matt if he doesn’t help create a loathsome future for humanity.
Stones (Data) by Jacob Whaler is an epic fantasy about Matt Newmark and his adventures after finding a magic stone on a skiing trip. Matt is in so many ways a typical twenty-something guy with a love of skiing, an all-encompassing adoration for his girlfriend Jessica, and a sometimes strained relationship with his dad. Ever since Matt’s mother died in a horrible accident, his father Kent had both of them live vigilant lives.
Father and son daily outfox their world’s intrusive technology that would expose them to the corporate thugs that also want Kent and his son dead.
Matt’s newfound stone is no simple souvenir of a spectacular wipeout on the ski slopes. It is one of a handful of keys that powerful people have used over the centuries to shape the future of civilization. Another stone holder, Mikal Ryzaard, has transformed from a bookish professor to the head of the most powerful technology and financial corporation on Earth. Ryzaard is desperate to merge the power of the stones, and this mega-egoist magician will stop at nothing to get Matt’s cooperation.
Stones (Data) is a delight of a story about a likable young man thrust into the dual shadowy worlds of counter-technology and mysticism. After Matt leaves Colorado for a summer internship in Japan, Whaler’s excellent plot swings between Matt and Kent as they battle Ryzaard’s relentless killer of a corporation. Tension crackles between the magician newbie Matt and the corrupt Ryzaard, leading to a satisfying conclusion that balances power and matters of the heart.
Welcome to that sensual fantasy world of Lita’s, the Enchanters of Sye. Come take a look at the new goings-on about Tredan’s Bane.
Readers’ Favorite recently read Lita’s epic fantasy, Tredan’s Bane, and praised it with lovely 5 star reviews.
In Tredan’s Bane, a magical oddities dealer hides her kidnapped husband’s dangerous spell book. Immerse yourself with a ghostly warning, secret magic, and Enchanter shame–then be ready to RUN! This is what Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite had to say about Tredan’s Bane:
“Tredan’s Bane by Lita Burke is a fantasy story filled with suspense, intrigue, and magic.
The constant attacks from the Church force the Enchanters to escape. Tredan, Lanith’s husband, has also vanished. Both her shop and home have been burnt. She seeks the Enchanter Nyle’s help to search for Tredan.
They find Tredan’s journal where he has written down spells that will ruin the Enchanter’s magic. At the same time, an Enforcer comes in time to take Tredan’s journal. Lanith should keep the journal away from the Church magician so that the Enchanters are not destroyed. Lanith is also overpowered by Nyle’s charm and she has to resist him.
The story is very intriguing and, at the same time, exciting. The scenes are evocative and sensual. The Church is the dominating factor in this tale which has many ingredients. The author has woven a story of adventure, magic, romance, passion, intrigue, suspense, murder, and religion with expertise.
The book is well written and it is action packed and fast paced. The author has done well in defining each character. The Enchanter Nyle’s character is ‘enchanting’ and mysterious. Another exciting part of the story is provided by Lanith’s pet dragonette who is also part of the main plot.
The tension between the Church and the Enchanters is palpable throughout the book. That gives tension and a unique angle to the story line.”