Popular 2012 New Releases Books Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Popular 2012 New Releases Books Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1) by Jay Kristoff (Goodreads Author) 3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 · rating details · 1,609 ratings · 674 reviews Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task.
But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected. Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she's determined to do something about it. Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?(less) Price: $15.04 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details You Save: $9.95 (40%) In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available. Want it delivered Friday, January 11? Order it in the next 16 hours and 49 minutes, and choose One-Da

Dream of being reunited with your first love?

One woman's tale of staying friends with an ex At a lovely summer party given by a schoolfriend in our old hometown of Huntingdon, I became aware of a tall, elderly, white-haired gentleman striding purposefully towards me. Now, it’s many years since men of any age strode eagerly in my direction, so I wondered who he was and what he wanted.
As he got near, he said, ‘Liz?’ ‘Yes?’ I replied to this complete stranger. ‘It’s Alex, Alex Williams.’ ‘No! I don’t believe it!’ Reunited: Liz Hodgkinson and Alex Williams were lovers 47 years ago. Now they are just good friends, but their reunion was a poignant moment for both Alex had been my first ‘real’ boyfriend when I met him as a 17-year-old schoolgirl in Cambridgeshire; the first young man who had ever made my heart beat faster. It was thrilling to see him again unexpectedly after so many years. Once I recovered from my shock, he uttered the mischievous words: ‘We never really split up, did we?’ Indeed, we did not. We just drifted away from each other in the way one did in those days, without ever saying goodbye or realising that we might never meet again. Even though I had not seen him for 47 years and would never have recognised him, we instantly bonded once more. A rapturous reunion and floods of shared memories followed, accompanied by generous amounts of wine. More... 'I love my sugar daddy lifestyle!' Student, 21, who finds rich older man on controversial dating site gives up nursing dreams to pursue lucrative life as a 'sugar babe' One enjoyed privilege, the other hardship... The sisters raised 30 miles apart but in cruelly different worlds Sixty the new forty? Don't kid yourselves, ladies... Why trying to be a sex siren in your seventh decade is downright deluded
We both realised that we couldn’t just drift out of each other’s lives again — particularly as it turned out we lived so near each other, with me in Oxford and Alex in Cheltenham, an hour’s drive away. Now and then, Alex had flashed into my mind over the years, but not with a strong enough impetus to try to make contact. But now, having met him again, it became clear he’d made a strong impression all those years ago — and was reinforcing that now. There is possibly even more risk involved when one of you is single and the other is married (I’ve been single since my partner died in 2004 and Alex is happily married). There’s always an inherent danger in reconnecting with old flames, especially those from your very distant past. Either you wonder what on earth you saw in each other in the first place, or, even more dangerously, there may be a remaining little spark, not quite extinguished, which threatens to re-ignite itself against all the odds. Perhaps most threatening of all is the fact that however many years have passed, if you knew someone when they were young, to you they always are young. The minute I met Alex again, all those years and decades rolled away as we saw ourselves as 18-year-olds again. Back in 1961, Alex Williams had been one of the most glamorous young men I had ever encountered. He was an art student at St Martin’s School of Art, rake-thin, dark, handsome, brooding and talented. I was a raw sixth-former, longing for sophistication and decadence, and he seemed to provide it. He was that little bit older and had already escaped to London. Bright young thing: Liz in her youth We had met as aspiring young intellectuals at the Huntingdon Music and Arts Society (a regular gathering for those interested in the arts) And for those who imagine that teenagers in those far-off days were innocent, demure young creatures who never did anything wrong, I have news. Alex and I — and our friends — were no strangers to falling out of nightclubs at 3am, or binge-drinking, come to that. Alex and I were instantly attracted to each other, but as he was away at St Martin’s, we could only meet up in the holidays. We fancied ourselves as the fashionable young things of Huntingdonshire, gilded youths who could get away with anything. We would stagger drunkenly into the meadows of Godmanchester, the pretty village where Alex’s parents lived, and wonder how on earth we would ever get home. We went on pub crawls, driving our parents’ cars while well under the influence and, one night, painted the village white with huge ban-the-bomb signs. It all felt so daring and exciting. Alex was a young bohemian, up to all sorts of mischief, and I was a besotted schoolgirl, ready to follow his lead. But underneath the teenage rebellion, he was ambitious, dedicated and completely obsessed with art. I was ambitious, too, with a secret yearning to be a writer. It all felt so daring and exciting. Alex was a young bohemian, up to all sorts of mischief, and I was a besotted schoolgirl, ready to follow his lead Alex and I last met in Paris in 1962. I had gone with two girlfriends, just before we all parted for university, and Alex and two of his friends joined us, somewhat secretly, later — our parents were not to know. But I think Alex had already moved on; meeting girls at art school who were far more exotic and experienced. And I was about to embark on a new life as a university student and wanted to feel free of Huntingdon. The oomph, if such it was, had already gone out of the relationship, and we faded out of each other’s lives, with no contact of any kind, until three years ago. Brooding: Alex as a young art student After parting, we both soon fell in love with other people, made very early first marriages, both aged 21, had families, children (a boy and girl for him; two boys for me), got divorced, buried our parents and were fortunate enough to find fulfilling new relationships in later life. By the time we met again, Alex was happily married to his second wife Celia, a maternity nurse. I had been single since my partner, the writer John Sandilands, died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004. Friendship, on the other hand, was on the cards. The next time we saw each other was when Alex invited me to his arty home for dinner. There I met Celia, his wife. She had been at the party but I had been too drunk, or too surprised, to notice anybody much but Alex. Celia was brilliant from the start. So what now? Alex and I were no longer bright young things, but grandparents, hurtling towards our threescore years and ten. Even our children were middle-aged. We agreed at this party that we would stay in touch but we understood that in our case, the youthful romance had long burned itself out and there was nothing left to ignite. A very attractive, warm and friendly woman, about ten years younger than Alex, she encouraged the friendship and we soon bonded. It became clear to me Alex and Celia were very much in love and really only had eyes for each other. Celia expressed regret that she’d never known Alex as a very slim young man with jet-black hair, as I had. Thankfully, over time, Alex and I slotted into an easy, mature friendship that included Celia, our children and their partners. As I learned more of Alex’s life, I began to appreciate what a desperate struggle he’d endured to follow his dream, go to art school and become an artist. He had been opposed at every turn by his strict father, a RAF squadron leader, decorated war hero and ultimate man’s man. As I learned more of Alex’s life, I began to appreciate what a desperate struggle he’d endured Mr Williams senior wanted his elder son to have a proper job with nice guaranteed pension. Artists were, in his view, poncy layabouts, and his wayward, untamed son seemed to be fulfilling all his worst fears. There were mighty family battles behind closed curtains, something I had not known at the time. Alex’s life had been full of thrills and spills, success and failure, acceptance and rejection, huge elation and deep despair. While his college friends David Hockney and Peter Blake enjoyed international fame and success at an early age, Alex took longer to find his unique style, and establish himself as a significant modern artist. But he got there in the end. Celia, bless her, was very supportive of our project. She was generous with hospitality and time, in spite of having her own busy career. Meanwhile, I got to know Alex better than ever before. In the mature man, I found a restless but warm-hearted, witty and kind but still ferociously ambitious, person. I was so intrigued I suggested we collaborate on his biography, and Alex agreed. It meant delving deep into his psyche and dishing it up for the general public to read, but also spending months in close contact — as it turned out, ringing or emailing each other almost daily and meeting frequently. I also learned that art came first. Anybody who embarked on a relationship with him had to accept that — a sacrifice that would have been too much for me. As much as I enjoyed our time together, we could never have been life-time partners. Our teenage fling was just that — a fling. Two years after our reunion, our book is almost out. What’s more, we’ve disproved all those who say you can’t be friends with an ex — particularly your childhood sweetheart. And now we have the best kind of relationship there is: close, affectionate, productive — and platonic.

Gravity's Engines: The Other Side of Black Holes

Like an electric dynamo, this black hole spins and pumps energy out through cable-like magnetic field lines into the chaotic gas whipping around it. Photograph: EPA A black hole is creation's end point, a one-way exit from the universe, an enclosed region of spacetime from which nothing can escape. Gravity's Engines: The Other Side of Black Holes
In that sense, black holes are neither here nor there. In practical terms, however, these death stars are everywhere and may mean everything to us. There is even a tiny one – a piffling four million times as massive as the Sun – at the heart of the Milky Way, the galaxy we call home. Cambridge scientists announced in October that they had peered through cosmic clouds of dust in the very early universe to identify a new population of supermassive black holes – one of them is 10 billion times more massive than the Sun – at a distance of 11 billion light years. The paradox is that, while the forces within the invisible enclosure of a black hole are so fierce that nothing, not even light, can get out, these dark stars are also the most radiant things in the universe. Karl Schwarzschild, a German mathematician and, in 1915, a gunner on the Russian front, worked out the way space and time would be distorted around a massive spherical object. The event horizon, the point beyond which light cannot escape, is now formally called the Schwarzschild radius. This was more than 70 years before a single black hole had been identified. A spinning, supermassive black hole is a kind of cosmic-scale battery, says Caleb Scharf: it can produce a pole-to-equator difference of a thousand trillion volts, it can propel the tenuous matter swirling around its devouring maw to relativistic speeds and deliver what is still called a quasar – an electromagnetic outpouring equivalent to the light from 1000 billion Suns. It is the most efficient converter of energy in the cosmos. It can also puff slow, pulsating bubbles of inaudible sound through the vast galactic cloud around it, "57 octaves below B flat above middle C in case you were curious. That's approximately 300,000 trillion times lower in frequency than the human voice … Supermassive black holes can make you a very, very nice sound system." Scharf heads an astrobiology research team at Columbia University in New York, and his thesis is that the biggest black holes serve as cosmic regulators: that they control the production of stars in the great clouds of gas and dust from which, ultimately, all stars and planets must condense. It could also be the wild card, the joker, the blind, haphazard agency that decides whether a galaxy has any future for photochemistry, organic chemistry, and ultimately, sustained biochemistry on some randomly ordered rocky planet with running water, reasonably near its parent star in some quiet galactic suburb. The Milky Way, says Scharf, is "smack-dab in the sweet-spot of massive supermassive black hole activity. It is possible that this is not mere coincidence." And once again, this heady story of astronomical endeavour and cosmic conjecture prompts a happy mix of marvels. Consider, for example, the gravitational forces acting on a neutron star, an ultradense object one step from total collapse into a singularity or black hole. To escape from Earth's gravitational field, you need a rocket speed of about eight miles a second. To get away from a neutron star, the rocket must accelerate to 62,000 miles a second. If you dived from a springboard one metre above its surface, you would hit the ground at 1,200 miles a second. Drop into a black hole, however, and you'd slam through the point of no return at virtually the speed of light. The other paradox of these unimaginable objects is that somebody first had to imagine them. John Michell, a British pioneer of earthquake science in 1783 followed the logic of Newton's theory of gravity and proposed a dark star, a star so massive its own light would return to it. The French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace separately arrived at the same reasoning a decade later. Albert Einstein began to explore the way a massive star might distort the fabric of the universe around it.
There are 100 billion galaxies out there in the farthest cosmos, each containing at least 100 billion stars. Some of these are spiral galaxies, and the only life we know about exists on the outer limb of one spiral galaxy with a relatively quiet black hole at its heart. So the argument is tentative: with a sample of one, what else could it be? But that's the allure of cosmology. It offers the ghost of a possibility of an answer to the eternal question: how did we get here?
And that's the other delight of this book, and all such accounts of discovery. They offer a reminder that, given an understanding of mathematical logic and some lenses with which to make a telescope, one accidental species on one inconsequential speck of matter in the 14 billionth year of the universe has been able to identify a few testable laws that govern matter and energy, and from these, and with an arsenal of ever more ingenious telescopes, build up a picture of things that happened far away and long ago, and from that begin to construct a story of everything. The story is provisional. The next generation of space-based and earth-bound telescopes will almost certainly reveal ever more amazing things, with ever greater precision. Who needs another series of Star Wars movies, when the universal studios can go on delivering excitement on this scale? Рlease write comment on my blog!