Fantasy & Murder Mystery: Sarah Gailey: “Magic for Liars – A Novel” (c) 2019.

Sarah Gailey: “Magic for Liars – A Novel” (c) 2019.

Well-crafted and compelling fantasy and murder mystery, a story of mages, and a family story of twin sisters Ivy and Tabitha Gamble.

Ivy is born without the gift of magic. She has never wanted that ability. She has been a PI for 14 years.

Her twin, Tabitha, is born with a gift for magic. She is a teacher of Theoretical Magic at the Osthorne Academy of Young Mages.

The two sisters have been estranged for about seventeen years, since the death of their mother.

Ivy Gamble is hired to investigate the murder of teacher Sylvia Capley at the Osthorne Academy.

The teachers and the high-school students are all mages, having magic gifts to one degree or another.

Ivy puzzles over the clues. How Sylvia Capley was killed involved magic. A mage was involved one way or another. Was the mage who murderer Sylvia still on the campus? or …

Was Sylvia trying out magic beyond her knowledge or abilities? Was it a spell that spun out of control, with horrific consequences?

As Ivy investigates Sylvia Capley’s death, she also struggles with her own inner quest to come to some kind of peace and reconciliation with her sister Tabitha.

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Sci-Fi: Post-Apocalyptic thriller: Adrian J. Walker’s “The End of the World Running Club” (c) self-published in 2014; 2016, 2017.

Post-Apocalyptic thriller: Adrian J. Walker’s “The End of the World Running Club” (c) self-published in 2014; 2016, 2017.

Gripping and heart-wrenching: a story of the human spirit, of a transformative inner journey, the will to survive, a story of hope and love.

Earth is devastated by innumerable asteroid strikes.
In Edinburgh, Edgar Hill, his wife Beth, and their children, 3-year old Alice and baby Arthur are in a survivors’ camp at the nearby Castlelaw barracks, together with other civilian survivors, and a few soldiers.

Ed and some of the men are out foraging for food and whatever can help them to survive a rapidly deteriorating situation when rescue helicopters arrive at the Castlelaw barracks. Ed’s family is evacuated, together with most of the other survivors. Their destination is Falmouth, Cornwall, 450 miles away, where ships await, to take them to safer havens in the southern hemisphere.

Left behind at the barracks are six men and one woman: Three are soldiers – Laura Grimes, Yuill, and Henderson; and four civilians – Ed, Bryce, Richard, and Harvey.

Ed and the others leave Edinburgh, in a Jeep, to begin with. Ultimately there is no choice but to go on foot across a chaotic landscape – of fires, ash, rubbles, canyons, and craters. Along the way, they face perilous encounters with other survivors.

Ed comes to an unspoken decision: he starts to run. He still has over 300 miles to get to Cornwall and he must get there within three weeks. He wants nothing more now than to be reunited with his family.

The others with Ed come up with a plan to walk and run. And they will have to stop to rest, forage for food and water…
The soldier Laura Grimes, proves key to their survival more than once: courageous, quick, and able to think on her feet.

They meet an old man, Lord Rupert Bartonmouth, 80; somehow he and his mansion have survived. Barely. He asks how they’re planning to get to Cornwall.
When Ed tells him they are running to Falmouth, the old man coins a name for them: “The End of the World Running Club”.

A fascinating thought-provoking character-driven story.

Thriller: Jennifer McMahon: “The Winter People” (c) 2014.

“The Winter People” by Jennifer McMahon is a gripping and haunting mystery thriller, its suspense heightened by a tangled web of reality and the supernatural. Can the dead return to the living world as real people?

The story is set in West Hall, a small New England town in Vermont, a town haunted by strange disappearances and mystifying legends. The story unfolds along two timelines – 1908 and the present day.

In 1908, Sara Harrison Shea, 31, was found murdered at her family farmhouse. Her niece, Amelia Larkin, discovers Sara’s hidden diaries & journals. As a young girl, Sara was cared for by “Auntie” a Canadian Native woman from Quebec, after Sara’s mother died in childbirth. “Auntie” spoke of portals through which the dead could return to the world of the living.

Sara was grief-stricken when her young daughter, Gertie, was found dead at the bottom of a deep well. Gertie had dreams of meeting dead people whom she called “winter people,” dead people wandering at the edge of real life.

In her journals, Sara wrote of her longing to bring Gertie back from the dead. Sara claimed that people could really come back from the dead, that “Auntie” had given her written instructions on summoning the dead, and directions to a portal in the woodlands near the West Hall farmhouse.

Amelia published Sara’s journals & diaries as a book, “Visitors from the Other Side – The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea.” She could not find any of Auntie’s written instructions on summoning the dead or where the portal was located. People read the book, and anyone finding the missing pages stood to make a fortune.

Present Day:

Ruthie Washbourne, 19, lives in West Hall, in Sara’s old farmhouse, together with her mother Alice and younger sister Fawn. One day, Alice disappears, without a trace. Ruthie is puzzled. This is unlike her mother. Ruthie decides to wait a few days, perhaps her mother will return soon.

Ruthie and Fawn search the house for clues about their mother’s disappearance. And they find a copy of “Visitors from the Other Side – The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea.” Ruthie is fascinated.

Ruthie and Fawn’s lives take a sudden turn into a terrifying and perilous experience. Two women turn up at the farmhouse on a cold wintry night. Both have lost loved ones. Candace lost her brother in West Hall. Katherine’s husband Gary died in a car accident on the highway to Boston, after a puzzling stop in West Hall. Both Candace and Katherine have read “Visitors from the Other Side – The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea.”

A fantastic well-crafted chilling thriller!

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Literary & Speculative fiction: Kate Hope Day: “If, Then” (c) 2019

Kate Hope Day: “If, Then” (c) 2019

Well-crafted literary & speculative fiction of alternate realities and alternate versions of oneself.

A complex and fascinating novel, both dream-like & realistic. A compassionate tale of ordinary lives, shaken by an extraordinary experience.

The story is set at the foot of Broken Mountain, a dormant volcano in Clearing. Oregon. There are earth tremors from time to time.

The story is centered around the lives of four characters.
Each one experiences “visions”, an alternate reality of their lives.
The alternate reality is preceded by earth tremors and a metallic taste in the mouth.

Ginny McDonnell is the chief surgeon at the nearby hospital. In her alternate reality, she falls in love with her colleague Edith. She knows she will have to face a life-changing decision, to leave her husband, Mark McDonnell. And she must consider the consequences for their son, Noah.

Ginny’s husband, Mark McDonnell is a scientist with the Dept of Fisheries & Wildlife. He is convinced that the behavior of animals is a reliable indicator of volcanic activity. On the mountain, he sees a man just like him, “the Other Mark.” But the Other Mark is dangerous and confrontational.
Through cameras, Mark monitors frogs in the mountain ponds. When he realizes the frogs have left the ponds, he knows in that instant that a volcanic eruption is imminent. He also realizes that to protect his life and the lives of others, he must kill the Other Mark.

Samara Mehta is unsure of what to do with her life. She mourns the recent death of her mother Ashmina who was a real estate agent. Samara acquires a realtor’s license. In her alternate reality, she “sees” her mother put up a “FOR SALE” sign in their family home yard. She discovers also that her parents had planned to retire to Costa Rica.

Cassandra (Cass) is a brilliant philosophy student researching the possible existence of alternate realities. She takes time off to care for her new baby, Leah. Her husband Amar is away on a marine biology research project.
In her alternate reality she sees the Other Mark; and also sees another version of herself, pregnant. Can she still pursue her philosophy studies?

Mark’s premonitions are borne out when Broken Mountain erupts suddenly. The major characters survive in a bunker that Mark has built for just such a contingency.

Other people in the region report visions of their alternate realities as the mountain erupts.

Each person faces making decisions for the future direction of their lives. And the experience of their alternate reality becomes a significant part of those decisions.

The “what ifs” of life. Compelling and thought-provoking novel.

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Sci-fi: Suzanne Palmer’s “Finder” (c) 2019.

Suzanne Palmer’s “Finder”

Immensely enjoyable! An excellent space opera novel: Great characters and dialogue to match, funny, fast-paced, endless intrigue & fantastic worldbuilding.

Suzanne Palmer is acclaimed for her short sci-fi:
The 2019 winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction; for her story, “Waterlines,” in Asimov’s Science Fiction.
2018 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.
Readers awards – Asimov’s, Analog, Interzone; Locus Recommended Reading List. Stories included in sci-fi anthologies.

“Finder” is Book 1, of The Finder Chronicles Series, by Suzanne Palmer
Sequels: Driving the Deep (The Finder Chronicles Book 2) – 2020
The Scavenger Door (The Finder Chronicles Book 3) — to be published- 2021

Fergus Ferguson is an interstellar repo or professional finder of stolen things and returning them to their owners.

He is hired by the Shipbuilders of Pluto to find and return to them one of their most complex AI spaceships “Venetia’s Sword.” The ship was loaned to Arum Gilger who is an interstellar salvage trader, wealthy and very powerful, and who fails to return the ship.

Gilger’s home base is in the Cernee (Cernak) human colony, in the backwaters of a solar system deep in space. Cernee is a mix of habitats, including hollowed-out asteroids, and space stations.

Ferguson makes it to Cernee and immediately finds himself drawn into a power struggle among the various factions that live in Cernak, each with its own habitat, political, cultural, social structure. The situation rapidly accelerates into chaos and deadly confrontations.

Adding to the intrigue, the Asiig are aliens who appear in black triangle ships from time to time in Cernee, and who inevitably change anyone who comes in contact with them.

The Characters:

Fergus Ferguson:

originally from Earth (Scotland). Left when he was 15. Fergus is inventive, resourceful, courageous; and determined to do his job. Comes up with crazy, weird, and ingenious solutions, whatever it takes to get the job done; knows the risks and dangers of his job as a finder; prefers to work alone because he does not want to endanger anyone else’s life, and will do whatever he can to save someone else’s life at the risk of his own.

The Governer of Cernee: Central authority in Cernee.

The Vahn family: own a lichen farm & their own habitat;
Mari Vahn; a formidable young woman; cares deeply about Cernee, its people; its survival. Very courageous.

Arum Gilger — the powerful and wealthy trader who has stolen the spaceship “Venetia’s Sword. ” He wants total control of Cernee.

The Vahn family and Arum Gilger are enemies.

Weapons dealer Harcourt; from Mars originally.

Vinsic — trader in ores and black-market goods.

A well-crafted space opera!