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First Page: Envoys from the Stars Fiction

First Page: Envoys from the Stars Fiction

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Chapter One

The lucid deep blue eyes of the child held a constant gleam of anticipation as the train sped on through the English countryside towards London. His bubbling inner excitement was fanned constantly by the magical ebb and flow of this, his first journey into the greater outer world. To his boyish senses, a harmony, virtually lost to adult perception, blended together in sweet symphony the odours of steam, oil and burning coal with the rhythmic rocking of the time-worn wooden railway carriage.

Totally consumed by the sound of the labouring locomotive up ahead, the child’s gaze began to follow the telegraph wires that ran parallel to the track. They suddenly appeared as a living thing, whipping up and down, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. It was as though someone was holding a giant pencil through the window to draw lines on the sky, he thought.

The illusion held his attention for several enchanted minutes before he at last turned his rosy cheeks towards the young woman seated beside him. A tiny lace handkerchief, that she’d been dabbing at her eyes with, was hurriedly returned to her handbag. The little boys gaze regarded her intently.

“Mummy, why are you crying?” he asked softly. Till then, her efforts to remain cheerful for the child’s sake would have been more than obvious to any casual observer. She squared her shapely shoulders and with an effort, glanced down affectionately at her fair-headed son.

“Mummy’s not crying, silly! Just a little soot in my eye from the locomotive!”

She stood up and pulled on the leather strap to lift the window a little and turned unsteadily to seat herself on the opposite side,

“Come, sit over here with me, darling. We should have our backs to the engine!” she said.

The boy slid obediently to the floor and clambered up beside his mother. They shared the compartment with one other passenger, an elderly gentleman who, after a polite nod to the mother and a friendly wink at the child had promptly fallen asleep after a rather hasty glance through the pages of his ‘Daily Express’ and a sorrowful shaking of his head.

The pleasant autumn weather on this Saturday, the 12th of September 1940, did nothing to subtract from the mounting gloom of Julie Ann Wade. Today she was en route to the south-eastern English county of Kent to place her eldest son in the care of an institution, namely, St James, a boarding school for boys.

Daily Deals: A DA recommendation and a couple of mysteries

Daily Deals: A DA recommendation and a couple of mysteries

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy)  by N.K. JemisinThe Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the debut novel from a major new voice in fantasy fiction.

I thought this was a great book. Jia reviewed it here and gave the book a B+

The other half of the story we get is devoted to that of gods. What I liked about The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was that it dealt with gods in a mythic sort of way — the creation mythos, the constant give and take of fighting and friendship, even the incestuous aspects of many myths are portrayed. In the present story, most of the gods have been enslaved and made into living weapons by the Arameri. Yeine encounters them almost immediately when her cousin, Scimina, wastes no time in introducing her to the cruelty that’s characteristic to their people. But just as much intrigue surrounded Yeine’s mother, intrigue also surrounds the diminished gods who are trying to find a way to restore balance and break free of the shackles placed upon them by one of their own. It’s up to Yeine to navigate through all of these obligations placed upon her without being reduced to a mere pawn.

I think readers looking for a change of pace from the usual settings found in the traditional fantasy genre will enjoy this one a lot. I thought the world was nicely developed and different from what we normally see. I liked that there were tensions among various classes and people, since that’s something that can get often glossed over.

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Echo Park (Harry Bosch Series #12) by Michael ConnellyEcho Park (Harry Bosch Series #12) by Michael Connelly. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

In 1993 Marie Gesto disappeared after walking out of a supermarket. Harry Bosch worked the case but couldn’t crack it, and the twenty-two-year-old was never found. Now, more than a decade later, with the Gesto file still on his desk, Bosch gets a call from the District Attorney.A man accused of two heinous murders is willing to come clean about several others, including the killing of Marie Gesto. Taking the confession of the man he has sought-and hated-for thirteen years is bad enough. Discovering that he missed a clue back in 1993 that could have stopped nine other murders may just be the straw that breaks Harry Bosch.

Echo Park is another prime demonstration of Mr. Connelly’s handiwork: he has woven entirely unsurprising elements into a surprisingly suspense-filled story. Just read his rivals in the crime genre to realize how difficult this is and how easy he makes it look.
—The New York Times

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The Seductive One by Susan MalleryThe Seductive One by Susan Mallery. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

For the Marcelli sisters of California wine country, the season is ripe for romance!
Of all the Marcelli sisters, the one who dreams of running the family’s winery is Brenna — and she’s about to get her chance. But taking the helm at Marcelli Winery is tougher than she bargained for — especially when she butts heads with her grandfather, whose Old World ways dictate that a male should inherit the business. In need of some fast capital in order to prove her grandfather wrong, Brenna turns to Nic Giovanni, her family’s nemesis….Years ago, she ended her secret relationship with Nic, choosing loyalty to her family over the hot passion they shared. But now he’s back in her life, he’s loaned her a million dollars, and their feelings for each other are stronger than ever. Brenna must find out for herself: is Nic the love of her life? Or the schemer who could topple the Marcelli dynasty — and break her heart?
Meet three unforgettable sisters in a wonderful trilogy that’s vintage Susan Mallery — warm, witty, and stunningly sensual. Look for The Sparkling One and The Sassy One, available from Pocket Star Books!

I read these books back in the day and I think I enjoyed them but honestly remember very little about them. All About Romance gave it a B. “What sells the story is the characterization. This is a very sweet romance between two relatable characters with flaws and insecurities, yet it never becomes too heavy or buried in angst. Mallery has a light touch, which shouldn’t be mistaken for weightlessness. Nic and Brenna are shaded just enough to make them interesting people, prone to mistakes and certainly not perfect. I was firmly on Nic’s side at the outset of his revenge plot, since he gave up everything for her while she caved to her family. But Brenna is never unlikable. “

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Dallas 1963 by Bill MinutaglioDallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio. $ 1.99.

From the Jacket Copy:

Winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Research Nonfiction

Named one of the Top 3 JFK Books by Parade Magazine.

Named 1 of The 5 Essential Kennedy assassination books ever written by The Daily Beast.

Named one of the Top Nonfiction Books of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews.

In the months and weeks before the fateful November 22nd, 1963, Dallas was brewing with political passions, a city crammed with larger-than-life characters dead-set against the Kennedy presidency. These included rabid warriors like defrocked military general Edwin A. Walker; the world’s richest oil baron, H. L. Hunt; the leader of the largest Baptist congregation in the world, W.A. Criswell; and the media mogul Ted Dealey, who raucously confronted JFK and whose family name adorns the plaza where the president was murdered. On the same stage was a compelling cast of marauding gangsters, swashbuckling politicos, unsung civil rights heroes, and a stylish millionaire anxious to save his doomed city.

Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis ingeniously explore the swirling forces that led many people to warn President Kennedy to avoid Dallas on his fateful trip to Texas. Breathtakingly paced, DALLAS 1963 presents a clear, cinematic, and revelatory look at the shocking tragedy that transformed America. Countless authors have attempted to explain the assassination, but no one has ever bothered to explain Dallas-until now.

With spellbinding storytelling, Minutaglio and Davis lead us through intimate glimpses of the Kennedy family and the machinations of the Kennedy White House, to the obsessed men in Dallas who concocted the climate of hatred that led many to blame the city for the president’s death. Here at long last is an accurate understanding of what happened in the weeks and months leading to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. DALLAS 1963 is not only a fresh look at a momentous national tragedy but a sobering reminder of how radical, polarizing ideologies can poison a city-and a nation.

“The authors skillfully marry a narrative of the lead-up to the fateful day with portrayals of the Dixiecrats, homophobes, John Birchers, hate-radio spielers, and the ‘superpatriots’ who were symptomatic of the paranoid tendency in American politics.”—Harold Evans, author of The American Century

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