War Cry by Wilbur Smith

Having read many of Wilbur Smith’s exciting fast-paced adventure novels such as Pharaoh and Golden Lion, I would like to read War Cry by Wilbur Smith. It is set in the 1930’s During Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and it concerns two families, one German one South African/British whose paths run in parellel until tumultuous world events beyond their control bring them together.

Saffron Courtney grows up on a sprawling Kenyan estate, under the watchful eye of her father, prominent businessman and distinguished war veteran Leon Courtney. Her childhood is idyllic, until a family tragedy forces her to grow up much faster than necessary. As she grows into a spirited teenager, her thirst for knowledge and adventure leads her to England, where she finds herself inevitably drawn into the heart of the gathering storm in the lead up to World War II.

Meanwhile Gerhard von Meerbach is the privileged and idealistic younger brother of Konrad von Meerbach, heir to an industrial fortune, and vocal supporter of the Nazi Party. Gerhard struggles to stay true to his principles in an increasingly cruel world. His friendship with a Jewish man places him in danger, and forces him to take a stand against the forces of evil that have overtaken his country and his family. But, unknown to him, he is caught in a trap that could cost him everything he holds dear As the Second World War looms over them all, Saffron and Gerhard’s worlds will collide – but there may be more to unite them than tear them apart.

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Christopher Paolini

American author Christopher James Paolini was born November 17, 1983, in Los Angeles, California. He was raised in the area of Paradise Valley, Montana. His family members include his parents, Kenneth Paolini and Talita Paolini, and his younger sister, Angela Paolini. Homeschooled for the duration of his education, Paolini graduated from high school at the age of 15 through a set of accredited correspondence courses from the American School of Correspondence in Lansing, Illinois. He currently lives in Paradise Valley, Montana, where he wrote his first book.

Following his high school graduation, he started his work on what would become the novel Eragon, the first of the Inheritance four book series set in the mythical land of Alagaesia. Followed by, Eldest, Brisingr and Inheritance. In 2002, Eragon was published for the first time by Paolini International LLC, Paolini’s parents’ publishing company. To promote the book, Paolini toured over 135 schools and libraries, discussing reading and writing, all the while dressed in “a medieval costume of red shirt, billowy black pants, lace-up boots, and a jaunty black cap.” He drew the cover art for the first edition of Eragon, which featured Saphira’s eye, along with the maps on the inside covers of his books. In 2002, the stepson of author Carl Hiaasen found Eragon in a bookstore and loved it; this led to Hiaasen bringing it to the attention of his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf Who subsequently made an offer to publish Eragon and the rest of the Inheritance cycle. The second edition of Eragon was published by Knopf in August 2003. At the age of nineteen, Paolini became a New York Times bestselling author.

The Inheritance Cycle is Set in the fictional world of Alagaësia the novels focus on the adventures of a teenage boy named Eragon who finds himself thrust into an adventure after discovering what he thinks is a blue rock but which turns out to be a dragon egg. He discovers that an ancient order of Dragon Riders was originally created by elves and dragons millennia earlier, in order to bring peace to the world. However the dragon of One Dragon Rider named Galbatorix was killed by a group of Urgals, this pushed him to insanity, and denied another Dragon by the Council of Elder Riders, Galbatorix blamed the Council for the death of his dragon and sought to destroy the order. He made an alliance with an ambitious young rider, Morzan, and with his help slew another rider and took his next dragon captive, Shruikan. Using magic, he broke Shruikan’s will and forced the dragon to serve him. Gathering more Riders to his cause, he created the Thirteen Forsworn and with their help took over Ilirea, the capital of the Broddring Kingdom, and destroyed Vroengard, the center of the Dragon Riders. Galbatorix slew the Elders, their leader Vrael and took his sword, and most of the Dragon Riders. Elder Rider Oromis and his Dragon Glaedr fled to Ellesmera, the capital of the elves’ kingdom, while Morzan confronted his old friend Brom, slaying his Dragon luckily Brom,escaped. After the fall of the Riders, Galbatorix declared himself King over all of Alagaesia and is trying to destroy all the dragon egg aided by his followers The Forsworn.

Meanwhile Brom created the Varden to oppose the Empire. He is aided by An Elf named Arya who is unfortunately captured by an evil servant of Galbatorix named Durza while delivering a dragon’s egg to Brom. Eragon learns of his own parentage and Brom teaches him Magic and Sword fighting. Then Eragon touches the blue rock which hatches a dragon which he names Saphira and he becomes a dragon rider. Eragon’s cousin, Roran, leaves for a job to earn money so he can start a family with his beloved, Katrina. His uncle, Garrow, is killed by King Galbatorix’s servants, the Ra’zac, and Eragon flees Carvahall with Brom to hunt down the Ra’zac, unaware that Brom is his father. Brom gives Morzan’s sword, Zar’roc, to Eragon. Eragon attempts to rescue Arya and they flee to the Vardan Stronghold of Tronjheim to join Varden’s leader, Ajihad, his daughter Nasuada, the dwarf King Hrothgar, and his foster son Orik, Eragon and Saphira are also tutored by Oromis and Glaedr in Ellesmera and During an elvish Blood-Oath Celebration, Eragon is changed by a symbolic dragon, giving him elf-like abilities to aid his quest to help defeat Galbatorix, Durza and his agents of evil.

Meanwhile Nasuada moves the Varden to Surda which is ruled by King Orrin, and Roran moves the villagers of Carvahall to Surda, after their village is attacked by the Ra’zac, who also capture Katrina. Roran is promoted to Captain while Nasuada allows the Urgals to join the ranks of the Varden. Eragon and Saphira confront Murtagh and Thorn, Murtagh takes Eragon’s sword Zar’roc. Eragon, Saphira, and Roran rescue Katrina. Eragon and Roran destroy much of Helgrind, slaying the Raz’ac while Saphira kills the Lethrblaka, the Raz’ac’s adult form. They then travel to the Beor mountains. Eragon goes back to Du Weldenvarden (the homeland of the elves)and creates his own sword Brisingr, which bursts into flames each time Eragon speaks its name, and learns from Oromis and Glaedr that Brom is his real father and also discovers the source of Galbatorix’s power. Elsewhere The Varden liberate several cities from the Empire, sadly Oromis and Glaedr are killed by Murtagh and Thorn. Eragon then travels to the Vault of Souls on the ruined Vroengard, Where he discovers a massive amount of secret Eldunarí and Dragon eggs hidden from Galbatorix. Unfortunately though Galbatorix also finds them…

Planet Stories

Planet Stories was an American pulp science fiction magazine, published by Fiction House between 1939 and 1955. It featured interplanetary adventures, both in space and on other planets, and was initially focused on a young readership. Malcolm Reiss was editor or editor-in-chief for all of its 71 issues. Planet Stories was launched at the same time as Planet Comics. Planet Stories also included stories from many well-known authors including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K.Dick and Clifford Simak.

Planet Stories two main writers are Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury, both of whom set many of their stories on a romanticized version of Mars that owed much to the depiction of Barsoom in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bradbury’s work for Planet included an early story in his Martian Chronicles sequence. Brackett’s best-known work for the magazine was a series of adventures featuring Eric John Stark, which began in the summer of 1949. Brackett and Bradbury collaborated on one story, “Lorelei of the Red Mist”, which appeared in 1946; it was generally well-received, although one letter to the magazine complained that the story’s treatment of sex, though mild by modern standards, was too explicit. The artwork also emphasized attractive women, with scantily clad damsels in distress or alien princesses on almost every cover.

Although science fiction (sf) had been published before the 1920s, it did not begin to coalesce into a separately marketed genre until the appearance in 1926 of Amazing Stories, a pulp magazine published by Hugo Gernsback. By the end of the 1930s the field was undergoing its first boom Fiction House, a major pulp publisher, had run into difficulties during the Depression, but after a relaunch in 1934 found success with detective and romance pulp titles. Fiction House’s first title with sf interest was Jungle Stories, which was launched in early 1939; it was not primarily a science fiction magazine, but often featured storylines with marginally science fictional themes, such as survivors from Atlantis. At the end of 1939 Fiction House decided to add an sf magazine to its lineup; it was titled Planet Stories, and was published by Love Romances, a subsidiary company that had been created to publish Fiction House’s romance titles. The first issue was dated Winter 1939. Two comics were launched at the same time: Jungle Comics and Planet Comics; both were published monthly, whereas Planet Stories was quarterly.

Malcolm Reiss edited Planet Stories from the beginning, and retained editorial oversight and control throughout its run, though he was not always the named editor on the masthead; when other editors were involved, his title was “managing editor” The first of these sub-editors was Wilbur S. Peacock, who worked from 1942 until 1945, after which he was replaced by Chester Whitehorn for three issues, and then by Paul L. Payne, from 1946 to Spring 1950. Published science-fiction writer Jerome Bixby, edited the next issue together with Jungle Stories and did much to improve the magazine, persuading the established writers to find unusual variations on the interplanetary adventure theme such as Poul Anderson’s “Duel on Syrtis” which is about an Earthman tracking an alien on Mars, and Theodore Sturgeon’s “The Incubi on Planet X”, which is about aliens who kidnap Earth women. Bixby was replaced by Malcolm Reiss in 1951. Following Bixby’s departure Planet’s major contributor was Philip K. Dick, who wrote five stories including “Beyond Lies the Wub” and “James P. Crow”, in which a human suffers discrimination in a world of robots. Jack O’Sullivan took over in 1952.

The letter column in Planet was titled “The Vizigraph”; it was also very active, with long letters from an engaged readership. It often printed letters from established writers, and from fans who would go on to become well known professionally. Most editions of Planet Stories initially focused on interplanetary adventures,often taking place in primitive societies that would now be regarded as “sword and sorcery” settings, and were a mixture space opera, planetary romances and tales of action and adventure on alien planets and in interplanetary space. Brackett and Bradbury set many of their stories on a romanticized version of Mars that owed much to the Barsoom of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Leigh Brackett wrote a series of stories featuring adventurer Eric John Stark, which began with “Queen of the Martian Catacombs”. Ray Bradbury also wrote “The Million Year Picnic” which was included into The Martian Chronicles and also co-wrote “Lorelei of the Red Mist” with Leigh Brackett. Ray Bradbury often demonstrated his reservations about the advance of technology, particularly in “The Golden Apples of the Sun”. Several other well-known writers appeared in Planet Stories, including Clifford Simak, James Blish, Fredric Brown, Damon Knight and Isaac Asimov whose story, originally titled “Pilgrimage”, appeared in 1942 as “Black Friar of the Flame”.

Almost every story that appeared in Planet could be described as space opera, basic themes included Earth being threatened by aliens or Earthmen being drawn into conflicts on alien worlds, such as Carl Selwyn’s “Venus Has Green Eyes”, which features a Venusian princess who hates humans. Many of Leigh Brackett’s female heroines were also head strong, hot tempered but brave and intelligent and would fight alongside the hero. Stories like “Lorelei of the Red Mist”, also depicted sexuality which caused controversy among readers. As did what the characters were wearing with functional spacesuits worn by the men, while the women wore transparent suits through which bikinis could be seen, this was sarcastically referred to as “sexual dimorphism in space” by many, with many of the covers also emphasizing sex. Hannes Bok contributed much of the interior artwork, and the covers were often by Allen Anderson during the early years. Later, Kelly Freas became a frequent cover artist. One of the best artists to work on Planet was Alexander Leydenfrost, whose work, epitomized much of what Planet Stories represented in the 1940s”. Sadly though despite it’s popularity the Summer 1955 issue was the final edition of Planet Stories.

Lord of the Rings

Amazon recently acquired the television rights to J.R.R Tolkien’s epic fantasy Lord of the Rings and have announced plans to make a television series based on events inMiddle Earth, with a multiple season commitment. The events featured in The television series will take place before the events featured in the 2001 feature film “The Fellowship of the Ring,” which kicked off the trilogy The Two Towers and Return of the King, all three directed by Peter Jackson. This could also include potential for a spin-off series as well. Amazon Studios will be collaborating on the series with the Tolkien Estate, Trust, HarperCollins and New Line Cinema. Amazon also produces “The Man in the High Castle,” an alternative history drama based on the Philip K. Dick novel. A cast for the Lord of the Rings TV series has not yet been announced.

 

The Fix by David Baldacci

IMG_4859Having read The Target, The Hit, The Innocent, The Guilty, Memory Man, No Man’s Land and The Last Mile, I would like to read The Fix by David Baldacci. This exciting police thriller features Detective Amos Decker a special agent, who suffered a head injury that resulted in giving him the gift of a remarkable memory, Which has enabled him to solve many crimes, which have baffled everyone else.

The novel concerns a chap named Walter Dabney, a family man. A loving husband and the father of four grown daughters , who has built a life many would be proud of. Then while Standing outside the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D C, Dabney shoots school teacher Anne Berkshire execution style, in cold blood, on a crowded pavement, before turning the gun on himself. One of the many witnesses is Amos Decker; a man who forgets nothing and sees what most miss. However Even with Decker’s extraordinary powers of observation and deduction, the seemingly senseless and random killing appears baffling.  Decker and his team can find absolutely no connection between the shooter – a family man with a successful consulting business – and his victim, a schoolteacher. Nor is there a hint of any possible motive for the attack.

Decker finds himself thrust into the investigation to determine what drove this seemingly loving family man to pull the trigger, so Decker and the team delve into the lives of Dabney and Berkshire to find a connection that doesn’t seem to exist. Then he meets Harper Brown. An agent of the Defense Intelligence Agency, she orders Decker to back off the case. The murder is part of an open DIA investigation, one so classified that Decker and his team aren’t cleared for it. Decker discovers that the Defense Intelligence Agency believes that Critical information may have been leaked to a hostile government – or, worse, an international terrorist group – and an attack may be imminent so now solving the murder has become a matter of urgent national security. Decker is a bit of a maverick and has never been one to follow the rules, especially with the stakes so high. Forced into an uneasy alliance with Agent Brown, Decker remains laser focused on only one goal: solving the case before it’s too late…

The Family Lawyer by James Patterson

The family Lawyer by James Patterson
The Family Lawyer by James Patterson features a Skilled Criminal Defence Attourney named Mathew Hovenes who finds his life thrown into chaos and starts living a parents worst nightmare after, his young daughter is accused of bullying another girl to the point of suicide. However something is not quite right with the evidence, so Matthew decides to investigate further.

Night Sniper by James Patterson and Christopher Charles
Exciting fast paced police thriller featuring Detective Inspector Cheryl Mabern who is one of the New York Police Departments most brilliant Detectives. She is called to investigate a calculating killer who is commiting seemingly random murders as she investigates further she finds herself having to confront her darkest fears.

The Good Sister by James Patterson and Rachel Howzell Hall
This novel features Dani Lawrence who finds herself facing something of a personal dillemma when her beloved sisters no-good philandering cheating husband, who she never liked, is found dead. She must decide whether to cooperate with an investigation which could end up with her sister being sent to prison or obstruct it by any means necessary, justifying it by saying he was asking for trouble and got what he deserved, even though by obstructing justice she risks finding herself in jail

J.G. Ballard

English novelist and short story writer James Graham “J. G.” Ballard was born 15 November 1930. He was also a prominent member of the New Wave movement in science fiction. His best-known books are Crash (1973), which was adapted into a (rather strange) film by David Cronenberg, and the semi-autobiographical Empire of the Sun (1984), which was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

Based on Ballard’s boyhood in the Shanghai International Settlement and internment by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War, Empire of the Sun recounts the story of a young British boy, Jaime Graham, who lives with his parents in Shanghai. After the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese occupy the Shanghai International Settlement, and in the following chaos Jim becomes separated from his parents. He spends some time in abandoned mansions, living on remnants of packaged food. Having exhausted the food supplies, he decides to try to surrender to the Japanese Army. After many attempts, he finally succeeds and is interned in the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Center. Although the Japanese are “officially” the enemies, Jim identifies partly with them, both because he adores the pilots with their splendid machines and because he feels that Lunghua is still a comparatively safer place for him, however the food supply runs short and Jim barely survives, with people around him starving to death. The camp prisoners are forced upon a march to Nantao, with many dying along the route. however some are saved from starvation by air drops from American Bombers.

The book was adapted by Tom Stoppard in 1987. The screenplay was filmed by Steven Spielberg, to critical acclaim, being nominated for six Oscars and winning three British Academy Awarhds (for cinematography, music and sound). It starred 13-year-old Christian Bale, as well as John Malkovich and Miranda Richardson; it also featured a cameo by the 21 year old Ben Stiller, in a dramatic role.The literary distinctiveness of Ballard’s work has given rise to the adjective “Ballardian”, defined by the Collins English Dictionary as “resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.” Sadly Ballard was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2006, from which he died in London on 19th April 2009, however In 2008, The Times included Ballard on its list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945