Guest Post and Excerpt by Lisa Llamrei
My Top Ten Favorite Books
As a writer, I often get asked what I read, so I’ve compiled a list of my top ten. The tough part was narrowing it down.
10. The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden
A tale of early Canada during the Huron-Iroquois wars. It’s told from the points of view of a Huron, an Iroquois, and a Jesuit priest. The author tells it like it was, in all its brutality, with such skill that there is no judgment, no assignation of blame.
9. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
The letter format makes this book feel very personal. Brilliantly understated, the author knows exactly what to reveal and what to hold back.
8. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
Fabulous commentary on the futility of war. Also an outstanding example of humor writing.
7. The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
If you love fantasy fiction, keep your eye on Patrick Rothfuss. This was his first published novel. The sequel is now available and is every bit as good. I hope to see much more from this talented author.
6. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
I read this in high school for a book report and thought it was the greatest thing I'd ever read. Twenty years later I read it again. It was every bit as good as I remembered.
5. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
I suffered severe writer's envy after reading this book. Five different first-person narratives, each one unique and compelling.
4. The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice
Masterful use of suspense. Rice has a way of letting you know there’s something you don’t know, so you have to keep reading. Finally, she tells you what it is you’re waiting to find out, while simultaneously insinuating there is a new thing you don’t know.
3. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
I was hooked from the first page. Have now read the entire series to date, and am waiting impatiently for the next instalment. I may have to watch the television show.
2. Shogun, by James Clavell
The most stunning piece of historical fiction I’ve ever read. I read it for the first time when I was eighteen, and it has never paled. I liked it even more when I learned there was a kernel of truth to the story.
1. The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
My all-time favourite book. Ever. It’s the Arthurian legend as seen through the eyes of the women. Every time I read it, I think that surely the pagans are going to win this time. They never do, but I keep hoping.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2008
I took one last look around the apartment. Not perfect, but it would do. I checked for the third time to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Everything I owned, packed into boxes, waiting to start over.
I lifted the first box from the small stack beside the door and carried it outside the apartment and down the steps. I placed it in the trunk of my car, half-closing it gently so it wouldn’t latch. As I turned to go back for the next box, a metallic thud sounded from nearby. Cats in the alley again. I started up the steps. Another crash. I hesitated. The neighbourhood had been having trouble with raccoons spreading garbage all over, but they didn’t usually appear in daylight. What do I care? I don’t live here anymore. I continued up the stairs.
With my hand on the doorknob, I hesitated again. I checked my watch. Already past four. The cleaning had taken longer than anticipated and I risked getting stuck in rush-hour traffic. Damn. I ran down the steps.
I walked the half-block to the alley and rounded the corner. What I saw there made me stop dead. A jolt passed through my whole body, as if the air were electrically charged.
Three men and a teenage girl. One man held the girl by the waist, both of her arms pinned behind her back, her feet dangling a few centimetres off the ground. The girl kicked out with her feet so the two men facing her had to stand out of reach. Still, they both held guns, one of which was pointed at her head. It had no effect on her thrashing.
I flattened myself against the wall, out of their sight. I reached toward my back pocket and remembered my cellphone was in the car. My mind raced. Three of them, at least two armed. They could kill the girl before I even got close, and then they would kill me. The Boy Scouts never prepared me for this.
I peered around the corner into the alley. The one with his gun at the girl’s head leaned closer and spoke to her. Whatever he said upset her and she spit in his face.
I raced into the alley hollering, “Let her go!” and immediately wondered what the hell I was doing.
The man smashed his gun into the side of the girl’s face. The other armed man aimed his gun at my chest. I slowed my walk. For some reason, my feet wouldn’t obey the impulse to hurl myself at the ground. I raised my arms. “Let her go—she’s just a child.”
The man holding the girl tightened his grip and the other two approached me. I willed my legs not to shake. They continued with their forward momentum, still refusing to obey my better sense. The first man raised his gun and smashed it into my skull. He slammed his other fist into my belly. When I crumpled to the ground, both men kicked me. I felt another blow to the head. I heard a gunshot; through the slits of my eyelids, I saw a brilliant flash of light. Just before losing consciousness, I had the vague idea that I was supposed to go toward the light.
Whispering. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of voices, but I couldn’t make out any words. They spoke very fast, as if someone had sped up a tape recording. I wondered if they were my loved ones waiting for me. I couldn’t see the light anymore and wondered if maybe the light didn’t want me.
I became aware of a throbbing in my head and felt the hard asphalt beneath me. Someone cradled my head. Waves of heat passed through my temples and rippled inside my skull. My scalp prickled. The throbbing diminished. Strong hands shook me. I feigned unconsciousness, not wanting to wake up to another beating.
The hands shook me again. I opened my eyes and looked straight into those of the young girl. She wore a long, white dress, her black hair falling in tousled waves past her shoulders to her hips. She seemed to radiate light. My first thought was that we were both dead and I’d made it to heaven after all. Maybe you get points for stupidity in the service of others.
Seeing her up close, it was clear I had underestimated her age by several years. Though small, she was clearly a young woman—closer to eighteen than fourteen, possibly even older. Her dress was sheer, showing every curve of her body. My immediate visceral reaction was not something I expected to feel in heaven. Then the throbbing in my head returned, equally unexpected. As my senses cleared, I noted the scent of garbage mixed with car exhaust. I heard horns honking in the distance and shouts from the street. So, not dead, then. When I tried to sit up, pain in my head forced me back down.
With uncanny strength, the girl pulled me to a sitting position and looked me square in the eye. She squatted on her heels. Any glow I thought I had seen disappeared. Her face muscles tensed, her mouth drew tight. I couldn’t quite read the emotion, but I didn’t get the impression she was concerned for my well-being.
“You’re alive.” My voice sounded thin. “I heard a shot. I thought …”
“He missed,” she said. “And you ought not to have interfered.”
Ought not … who talks like that? “Those guys were going to kill you.”
She folded her arms across her chest. “I was in no danger. I was fully in control until you happened by. Do your police officers not tell you never to antagonize an armed intruder?” She sighed. “If it had been anyone other than me, you would be dead right now. You really ought to take more care.” She stood and turned to leave.
Reflection of the GodsLisa Llamrei
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Alchera Press
Date of Publication: May 1, 2013
Cover Artist: Tania Craan
Amazon Kobo Alchera Press
Newly divorced Das MacDermott longs for a fresh start. As he packs up and prepares to move out of the city, he spots a young woman being held at gunpoint by three men. Despite being outnumbered and unarmed, Das does his best to intervene. Once liberated, the victim seems oddly ungrateful, but on an apparent whim decides to join Das in his new life in rural Ontario. Aislinn, as she is called, returns the favour; with her encouragement and support, his start-up photography business takes off, and more importantly, Das is saved from loneliness and self-doubt.
Das, however, is never quite able to fully dismiss the contrary aspects of Aislinn’s nature, and is strictly forbidden from asking about Aislinn’s past. All seems too good to be true, and indeed it is. Aislinn’s unusual talents and odd Behaviour, unbeknownst to Das, come from her demigod status. Aislinn is half-Sidhe, daughter of Fionvarra, Ireland’s fairy king, and a human woman. Sidhe wars have so disrupted the mortal world that Aislinn has joined with other immortals in an effort to permanently separate it from Tir N’a Nog, the fairy realm.
Born in ancient Ireland, Aislinn spends millennia as the plaything of the cruel and narcissistic gods. The pain of being neither human nor Sidhe is offset by her relationship to the Fir Bolg, another race of fair folk who take pity on her lonely state; and the refuge she takes in being Das’s lover and protector. As Das comes to accept the possibility that Aislinn belongs to a supernatural world, he discovers that the two worlds are set to collide in a way that may mean the destruction of all humanity.
About the Author:
Lisa Llamrei was born in Toronto. She studied languages at York University. At various times, she has been an actor, professional belly dancer and holistic nutritionist. She presently lives in Durham region with her four daughters, and she works at a school of holistic nutrition. Reflection of the Gods is her first novel.