Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop



Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop
February 28th to March 7th
Co-hosted by Jinky is Reading
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Who doesn't need a $5 gift card to amazon.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Cozy Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Jack and Holman Wang

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Cozy Classics: Pride and Prejudice 
by Jack and Holman Wang
NetGalley
Board Book
November 2012

Book Jacket Summary
Classics never go out of style—that’s what makes them classic. Cozy Classics is a new board book series that presents well-loved stories to children aged 0+. Every classic in the series will be condensed to 12 baby-friendly words, and each word will appear alongside a photograph of needle felted objects. Pride and Prejudice is a timeless romance about how a bad first impression can turn into love, and one of the world’s most beloved classics. Now this classic can be shared with your youngest children.

My Thoughts
Cutest series ever and I mean it! Again, I do have to say that this really is not something that little kids will seek out but their parents or other adults might. This one in particular has so many fans in the adult and teen world that this adorable book will sell very well. I did smile fondly as I turned the pages and just about died of cuteness several times. My favorite scene is the classic look at Elizabeth walking through the muddy fields to the Bingley's house. It is the scene on the cover, so please glance up to see how adorable it is with the mud on her skirts.
The book is made up of twelve words, including the words muddy, friends, sisters, dance, mean, and sick. I love this book and the concept behind the series, especially the words they have to choose to make up a story. They did an excellent job with Pride and Prejudice!

Book Pairings
Jane Eyre: A BabyLit Counting Primer by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver
Cozy Classics: Les Miserables by Jack and Holman Wang
Sharing with Renoir (Mini Masters)


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Fields of Elysium Book Blast




Fields of Elysium by A.B. Whelan

How can love mend a heart full of hate?

Small town girl, Molly Bennett, moves to Los Angeles where she becomes an outsider while attending Beverly Hills High School. It seems life cannot be any more dreadful. Then one day after school, something magical happens. On a secluded hike in the Hollywood Hills, Molly chases her disobedient mutt and only friend into a hidden cavern. She stumbles upon a strange glimmering gateway that transports her to Arkana, a planet that is the cradle of an advanced human race. There, teenagers navigate amazing flying vehicles, compete in perilous games for glory, and possess supernatural powers. While Molly tries to wrap her mind around this unbelievable discovery, she meets the alluring and mysterious Victor Sorren. He is a Sentinel Apprentice, whose hatred toward people from Earth is beyond understanding. Yet every time Victor unpredictably saves Molly's life, his heart draws closer to hers, no matter how much he tries to fight against it. It further complicates things that their growing friendship is strictly forbidden. Earth people are prohibited in Arkana, yet Molly continues to cross through the portal to Arkana to see Victor. Torn between their double lives, they go down a dangerous path, from where there is no return and multiple endings.

Fields of Elysium is a suspenseful, romantic tale full of forbidden secrets, unimaginable danger, deception, and the never-ending fight for true love.




PRAISE

"The novel's take on otherworldly travel is a compelling one, and the romantic plot will likely appeal to Twilight fans." - Kirkus Reviews

"I expected a good love story with a paranormal twist. I got so much more. I think you should take the chance and read it. Let this book take you on the adventure, fall in love." - Young Adult and Teen Readers

"Fields of Elysium is a fabulous read. ... Whelan paints her faith into the fabric of her story with deft, light brushstrokes, making her work accessible to all, no matter their spiritual beliefs or background." - Readers Favorite

"I escaped into this fantasy world, author, A.B.Whelan, created and I didn’t want Molly to go. From detailed descriptions, to sweet romance, and to all the twist and turns in the story, it had me captivated from page one." - Mary Ting, author of the Crossroads Saga

"Whelan's writing is very vivid and descriptive. It's more formal than the average YA novel, but I enjoyed the lyrical and mesmerizing quality to it. I thought the overall story read like a fairy tale--very sweet." - Megan Thomason, author of Daynight








Author A.B. Whelan

A.B.Whelan is a Hungarian born, American writer. She currently lives with her husband and two children in Southern California.
While growing up in a wealthy Eastern European family, she had a chance to travel Europe. Later as an adult, she visited Africa and the Middle East and lived in Ecuador and in Crete.

















$50 Book Blast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash plus a gift bag of one signed copy of Fields of Elysium, a scrabble-tile pendant with a butterfly image on a chain necklace, and a fridge magnet.

Ends 3/11/13

Gift Bag open to US only.  If winner is international they will receive only the gift card or paypal cash.
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Victoria Rebels by Carolyn Meyer: Guest Post

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Victoria Rebels by Carolyn Meyer
January 2013

Book Jacket Summary
 
Queen Victoria’s personal journals inform this captivating first-person account of one of history’s most prominent female leaders.

Queen Victoria most certainly left a legacy—under her rule as the longest reigning female monarch in history, the British Empire was greatly expanded and significant industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military changes occurred within the United Kingdom. To be a young woman in a time when few other females held positions of power was to lead in a remarkable age—and because Queen Victoria kept personal journals, this historical novel from award-winning author Carolyn Meyer shares authentic emotional insight along with accurate information, weaving a true story of intrigue and romance.


Guest Post

 photo carolyn_182x228px-210_zpsa364a76d.jpgMy first impulse, when you asked what books are beside my bed and waiting to be read, was to rush around, snatching up Shakespeare's King Lear, Cervantes' Don Quijote, maybe The Hobbitt, how about The Aeneid in Latin, certainly Pride and Prejudice (wait--I read that last month; better make it Wuthering Heights), and perhaps a slim volume of a poet nobody has heard of yet. Oh, and the Bible. I planned to arrange them tidily on the shelf beside my bed and announce them smugly. I am well-read!
My second impulse was to be honest. I spend nearly all day, nearly every day, when I'm not actually writing, reading books that pertain to whatever project I'm working on, and when I drop into bed around 9 pm I reach for….are you ready for this?…the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. It takes me practically all week to work my way through it (I never actually finish it) before I give up and read something from one of the accumulated New Yorker magazines (the oldest, on the bottom of the pile, is November 12.)

So there you have it--the unvarnished truth. 

By the way, anybody know a 5-letter word for "1952 Brando title role"?  Thanks.


http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f2a37252/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway


19th Interview @ WhoRu Blog
20th Interview @ The Reader's Antidote
21st Guest Blog @ Fantasy's Ink
22nd Character Interview with John Conroy @ Pages From My Thoughts
25th Guest Blog @ Bibliophilia, Please!
26th Guest Blog @ Books Beside My Bed
27th Top Ten: The Victorian Age @ Moosubi Reads
28th Interview @ Beauty But A Funny Girl
1st Character Interview with Fidi @ Bookcase to Heaven
4th Interview @ Gobs and Gobs of Books
5th Guest Blog @ A Dream Within A Dream
6th Character Interview With Prince Albert @ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
7th Guest Blog @ Stiletto Storytime
8th Interview @ Emily's Crammed Bookshelf
11th Interview @ Movies In My Head
12th Top Ten: Victoria's Favorites @ Curling Up With A Good Book
13th Character Interview With Victoria @ The Mod Podge Bookshelf

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Ivan's Great Fall: Poetry for Summer and Autumn from Great Poets and Writers of the Past by Vanita Oelschlager

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Ivan's Great Fall: 
Poetry for Summer and Autumn from Great Poets and Writers of the Past 
by Vanita Oelschlager
illustrated by Kristin Blackwood
NetGalley
Poetry, Picture Book
2009

Book Jacket Summary
Ivan's Great Fall is the story of a young boy reluctant to say goodbye to summer. Everything about summer makes him happy. Summer is endless days of play and nights full of stars. As summer turns to fall, he discovers autumn has a charm of its own. Fall is friends and school, trees full of brilliant colors and a chill in the air. Ivan's Great Fall introduces children to the poetry of Keats, Dickinson, Sandburg, Bronte and others. Excerpts from their writings, as seen through Ivan's eyes, will open up poetry as a way for children to express their own feelings about the changing of seasons. This book includes longer excerpts and brief bios of each author.

My Thoughts
Weaving in classic poetry in with her own beginning and end, Oelschlager finds a way to introduce lines of famous poets to children. Her aim is good but the transitioning can be a bit jarring. She had the same problem in Ivy in Bloom but still works as a cute picture book about the summer season. I do like that Oelschclager has the entirety of the poems in the back of the book, plus a brief history of the poet. I love Kristin Blackwood's illustrations that capture the haziness of summer. Cute and worth a check out from the library.

Book Pairings
Ivy in Bloom by Vanita Oelschlager

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Monday, February 25, 2013

A Girl's Guide to Fitting in Fitness by Erin Whithead and Jennipher Walters

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A Girl's Guide to Fitting in Fitness 
by Erin Whithead and Jennipher Walters
128 pages
Non-Fiction Fitness
NetGalley Zest Books
March 2013 

Book Jacket Summary
Whether you’re the MVP of your basketball team, an occasional jogger, or a self-acknowledged couch potato, The Girl’s Guide to Fitting in Fitness has practical advice that you can really use. The book is organized just like a typical teenager’s school week, and shows how easy it is to wake up earlier and sharper (using yoga and relaxation techniques), eat healthier foods, and use the little in-between moments of your day—like the commute to school, or the time between classes—to incorporate a little bit of physical activity that will make a big difference. Additionally, the book includes:
Sample workouts for the morning, the school day, and the summer and weekends
Sidebars packed with special advice, information, and tips for healthier living
Quotes from other teens about how they fit fitness in
Illustrations for all of the workouts and advice In this fun and practical guide, the writing duo behind FitBottomedGirls.com offers a real-world teen guide that’s sure to help even the most devoted TV-addict lead a fitter, healthier, and happier life—without the need for a gym or fancy exercise equipment.

My Thoughts
"If we could go back in time, what would we want to tell ourselves back in high school about living a truly healthy life style?"
This is something I wish I could go back and discuss with myself. I know we all wish we could talk to our younger self and instill some wisdom but Erin Whithead and Jennipher Walters hope to impart that wisdom with other teens. They want teens to find the right motivations when it comes to their health and fitness. I love their idea of "being motivated by your need to be the best version of yourself, not someone else." Teens have a false sense of how they look because of magazines and the way they Photoshop pictures. We should all strive to be the healthiest we can be and not strive for something we could never obtain.
Erin Whithead and Jennipher Walters give teens a basics of a fitness plan with the warm up, cardio, strength, flexibility, stretching, and the cool down. They should "set small goals and build up over time." They also recommend what to have for your workout from clothes, shoes, sports bra, watch, and a good attitude. There are real tips from teens included in each chapter and there are chapters on
eating well, eating disorders, waking up to fitness with breakfast and workout, being fit at school with PE, sports, extra curricular activities (dance, glee, flag squad, marching band, behind the scenes in the school plays), and lunches.
I highly recommend this book because of all the information provided by Erin Whithead and Jennipher Walters and these are all things I wish I knew more about when I was a teen. It is well crafted and I even learned some techniques that will help me breath easier throughout the day. Great for teen girls and for their families.

Book Pairings
Fat Cat by
The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids by Michael Pollen


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Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Prophecy Blitz

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The Prophecy by Rachel Deagan  
Publication date: February 8th, 2013
Genre:YA Urban Fantasy/Science Fiction
“The cards tell me of the children of the stars.”

Jacey thinks her life is worthless, when she finds herself in a psychiatric hospital after a failed attempt to end her life; her wounds miraculously healed. Devin, who claims to kill on touch, is also there. When Michael arrives, bearing telekinetic powers, he insists the government, and an even darker, more powerful force, wants them dead.

In a desperate attempt to escape for their lives, the three teens find they must confront an even greater adversary, themselves - and with a prophecy forced upon them, they must find a way to accept their fate, or rebel together, as one.




AUTHOR BIO
Rachel Deagan 
Rachel grew up in small town Massachusetts where she spent most of her time writing about strange paranormal creatures instead of paying attention in class. She has always been considered the 'dreamy' one with her head in the clouds. She now lives in Nevada with her two sons, a cat, and a rat named Sam.
Author Links:
Excerpt 3


“We need to head down to the lower floor. The crematorium is off of the cell block.” He rolled his emerald eyes at me, with a toying smirk. “Yeah, I know. Figures, huh?” He mock shivered. “Kudos to them on the ominous creepy. They should get a job in some underground Italian horror flick.”
I gently side-checked Michael with my elbow, giving him a mock glare. I couldn’t believe he was trying to find humor in this. Devin could be cooking alive right now.
“What, you don’t find it funny?” he asked, and this time the weight of my gaze was real. Michael shook his head, tossing me a weak, sympathetic half smile. “Oh come on. We can’t let them get to us, Jacey, love. It’s how they win.”
I sighed. “No. I know. I just feel guilty.”
“It’s okay, Jacey,” he said, bumping me back through his cloak in the arm. “It’s called surviving.” He paused and swallowed. “Devin would want that for you.”
He turned from me, before I could respond, hitting an elevator button on the side wall. I found the fact that they had elevators in this strange, alien place rather weird, but my focus stayed on Michael. He didn’t look at me until the sliding metal doors had opened and he slipped inside. Extending his arms in welcome, he grinned against the fluorescent lights. “Welcome to Instant Death. For those who may be pregnant or have severe motion sickness, please kindly step to the left so that you may die a horrible death in another way and not on this crazy, insane mission.” He grinned.
“Did they hurt you?” I asked, my tone a bare slip from usual. .
Michael stared at me, his arms seemingly frozen in their outstretched pose, as if he didn’t even know how to respond.
“Michael?” I asked, stepping into the elevator in front of him. The silver doors swished shut behind me, and the lights above our heads flickered.
“Don’t ask me that.”
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Disconnect Blitz

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Disconnect by Imran Siddiq
Series: Divided Worlds Trilogy, #1
Publication date: February 22nd 2013
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
In space, love has boundaries.

Dirtying fingernails in sewers is fast approaching worthlessness for Zachary, a 16-year old Underworld scavenger. When footage of an Overworld girl, Rosa, is discovered, his intrigue heightens at why she expresses sadness with a lavish lifestyle.

In meeting Rosa, Zachary is scorned by her opinion of the deprived. She pities him and provides a means for them to communicate. With time, friendship and something he’s never felt grows; love for another human. Knowing Rosa calls him when it suits her isn’t enough; he wants to meet her, but how? Relationships in Underworld are few, let alone the impossibility with those above the ceiling.

Underworld will suffer when plans to conquer Jupiter’s moon, Europa move ahead. Worse is Rosa’s father, a disgraced Overworld ambassador, approving the plan.

Zachary must defeat the prejudice of the worlds, sneak within opposing forces, lose friends and challenge Rosa’s sadness. In doing so, a twisted secret is uncovered that may devour the reason he lives; Rosa.


PURCHASE: 


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AUTHOR BIO
Imran Siddiq may have tried to leave Leicester a few times, but its become his place to wake up to two cats, freeze when the heating’s off and most of all, get down to writing. At a young age, his primary school teacher commented on his creativity and ability to tell stories.  At the age of 29, during a night in the jungle, the bug inside awakened, and for the last 5 years he’s been sacrificing every second that he can to write. A veteran of writing festivals, a presence on Twitter and gobbling up all forms of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, he hopes he can bring a smile to others in the same way that he had, aged 5, reading with a torch under his duvet. Imran’s preferred genre  is YA Sci Fi, and he has a tendency to throw a droid in every novel.
Author Links:

Chapter 1 - Worthless
Zachary stopped at the clunk under his boot.How had nobody seen the box? With a glance into the darkness of the Wastelands, he licked his chapped lips.Taking the box, Zachary darted past heaps of tottering metallic sheets. So far today, he’d scavenged nothing that was worth shoving into the pockets of his knee- length coat. If there was one thing to beat today, it was the pride-crashing kick to the guts of returning empty-handed for a fourth day. As the shortest scavenger of the stall at five foot six, a barren run made him the easiest target for teasing.
The stall’s heckles from the day before still chilled him. The quickest rat with the hunting skill of a slug. But thoughts of leaving the vast Wastelands with only a handful of screws and two-inch nails drowned in his anticipation that the jingling in the box would be ratchets, fuses and battery cells.
Zachary sprinted along the ledge of the bay to an overhanging bank. Not even the sick rested amongst the rusty vehicles deserted here. Using his trusted titanium screwdriver, he teased off the knot of wires beneath the mesh. Why would anyone take trouble to wrap and then to discard this box?
Whatever, thought Zachary freeing the last clasp of the lid. Inside there was a folded note, a silver Intercom-transmitter, and an orange-tinted bracelet. Result! Twiddling his long, brown hair, he scrutinised the box for hidden compartments within the padded interior. The smooth texture couldn’t have started life in Underworld, could it?
Locked away from light, Underworld was a murky pit in comparison to the rich nature of Overworld that few had seen, and finds such as these were rare here. Luck placed Zachary within easy access of the clutter that lay on the west side of Underworld, the Wastelands. Spending most of his day amongst the sewer pipes didn’t bother him for it was far better than the dull lanes of District Two. No day was the same amongst junk. Every gush from the pipes revealed a new surprise.
Nobody knew how thick the ceiling was or why its creation blocked Underworld from the world above. Often Zachary pondered what exactly sat above the ceiling. He guessed unlimited power, droids with abilities that dwarfed the functions of humans, and a life that didn’t require working in muck. Short hours. Free time.
An eerie chill climbed his spine at imagining the scattered giant steel support pillars dropping aside? Would Overworld add to the mess of Underworld? Could the two worlds of the Galilei Research Base co-exist? No chance.
What did it matter? Underworld’s builders had left it to rot.
Zachary squinted in the darkness at the unbroken chain links on the bracelet and the deep dent in its centre. Components of music-playing Harmon bracelets weren’t difficult to locate, though one as complete as this? He clicked his teeth thinking of when a working bracelet had last been handed to the stall. Longer than five years at least. There was a harsh rattle as he shook the bracelet. If he fixed this, it could be enough to save him another day of shame.
More than that, he could show his dad that scavenging wasn’t a deadbeat job by putting some good food on the table.
The Intercom-transmitter, a communication device he’d often see in the hands of a ruthless looter, felt light in his palm. If this find functioned – he held his breath – then mushrooms for supper would become a memory. Zachary squirmed. Adjusting to the slimy, vomit-wrenching taste of mushrooms that thrived in abundance was at the bottom of his to-do list.
He rubbed his back against the carcass of a vehicle, his heart thumping. Maybe the Master of the stall would let him look behind the curtain?
Zachary’s hazel eyes reflected off the Intercom’s shiny shell. He rubbed the recognition pad underneath, not sure what to expect. Dull lights clicked along the screen’s circular pattern. Blue tinted static formed in the air a foot above the Intercom.
“What in Europa!” Zachary swiped the image. Signs of energy were a signal to the greedy. If any of the gangs roaming the dry deluge saw this, they’d seize the Intercom and snap his skinny limbs apart.
Coat over the Intercom, Zachary sunk deeper into the bank. He paused before returning his thumb to the pad. The blue static burst out again, accompanied by a disturbing cackle. A human head with long hair formed in front of him. The image rotated, showing blurs where the eyes and mouth should have been. An incomplete android? Or an Overworlder?
Zachary’s curiosity peaked. He’d never seen an Overworlder before and it wasn’t like he had a choice in that matter. Galilei’s distinct division prevented any
mixing. There was no doorway, window or ladder to allow sight or sound between the worlds. Yet, he held a gateway to one in his hand. Were Overworlders as perfectly skinned as he imagined them to be? Did they wash every day without scrounging for water under steam-filled pipes?
“Fourth of August 2340, 15:16,” said a young girl.
Shut up!
Zachary crammed the Intercom to his waist. A spark erupted in the centre of the device, and then it switched off. He gasped open-mouthed. Eyes closed, he bugged his memory to repeat her soft words. It was gone. Zachary rubbed the pad. Nothing. Inactive. Dead. Worthless. No – the Intercom could be salvaged. It could be worth ... something.
His eyes narrowed at the unfolded note. “Initial surveillance confirms the location. Continue with Project Centurion.” There was nothing on the reverse.
The word surveillance bothered him. It was what scavengers said when watching a lucrative drop point in the Wastelands. Did the girl write the note? Was she after someone?
Zachary tapped the Intercom. It didn’t make sense for anybody to write on paper if they were going to place it with a messaging device, unless they knew the Intercom to be faulty.
He shrugged, putting all three items into his pocket. The box weighed little, but it was valuable. Hooking a wire from the box to an inner seam of his coat to aid its hidden transport, Zachary smirked. The mushrooms looked closer to being history.
After snaking around the vehicles, he jumped onto a protruding sewer pipe to reach the upper level. Whirring sounds halted him. Eastwards, embedded turbines spun clockwise like a volatile drill within the high ceiling.
A drop was coming. Normally, Zachary would’ve dashed over bust circuit boards to reach the drop point. Instead he watched a triangular section of the ceiling, secured by hydraulic arms, eject downwards. Wind spurted ahead of blazing light before rock-like objects rushed out, followed by a rainstorm of particles in pursuit. Discarded rubbish of Overworld had entered his world.
Zachary’s eyes tightened upon other Underworlders swarming to the falling treasure. It was a good one-minute run away, and by the time they reached it, the Wasteland gangs would have fought one another for the glory. If the wired-box had
been part of that drop, there’d be steel cutting through bodies to get it. He shivered with thoughts of the carnage if they’d found the Intercom.
Emitters within the ceiling dimmed, ending the artificial day. Turning on his heels, Zachary took the southern route to the bartering camps of District Two.
He manoeuvred to the steep ladder against the gigantic heated pipe. Halfway up on the forty-fifth rung, Zachary gazed over the irregular horizon of the Wastelands scanning for a girl running between the swamps, searching for her box. Who was she?
On reaching the platforms jutting from a mountain of metal, Zachary moved into the bartering camp, avoiding locking eyes with the near-naked hut occupiers begging with their scrawny fingers. Drooped faces, similar in every way, shared cracked bowls of sludge. He considered them to be a clever scheme, detracting from the pick-pocketers groping his coat.
If anybody here owned an Intercom, they wouldn’t place it in a box, even for safekeeping. No – they’d solder it to their belts and some to their piercings. That wired-box had to have come from Overworld.
Zachary licked his lips. The Intercom wasn’t totally broken; some life inside remained, and that gave it a chance to be repaired. There was someone who could repair it, but he’d have to be quick. If Zachary’s dad found out that he’d messed around with a device rather than exchanging it for money, then he’d be in for a kicking.
Recessed between the huts of the rat seller and the cockroach grinder sat Zachary’s employer’s stall. A bullish man nodded, allowing him entry into the candlelit foyer. He spoke little to the other scavengers lining the room’s edge. Either their goods had been delivered, or they had nothing spectacular to show. He continued, descending to the symmetrically carved area underground.
At the front of a corridor, a middle-aged man mumbled at his desk as he scribbled into a paperbound book. Shekhar peeked over cracked spectacles, showing no amusement at Zachary’s tentative loosening of his fingers.
The Harmon bracelet glittered in the candlelight.Shekhar bit the lid off his red pen. “He already has many.”“This works.” Zachary yanked the bracelet away from the attempted snatch. “Whereabouts?”“The drop.”“A working Harmon, Mister Connor? Why would anybody throw it away?”
Zachary gulped. The stall’s beady-eyed Secretary wasn’t a man to irritate. “Why does anyone throw away anything?”
Shekhar murmured. Pushing his spectacles up onto the bridge of his nose, he led Zachary to the wooden door with depictions of men carrying building blocks and guiding barrows. Shekhar knocked three times.
Zachary exhaled upon entry into the Master of the stall’s five-cornered room. Air swept from Shekhar’s slam of the door didn’t detract from the heart thumps Zachary felt. He was seconds away from the padded curtain that hung behind the Master’s chair. Desperation at wanting to peek behind the curtain accompanied the slide of his heel. No – wait, there wasn’t time for the curtain, no matter how long it’d been since he’d gazed beyond it. Priority stormed his mind. Get home. Repair the Intercom.
Cobwebs pinned inside picture frames decorated the walls above stacked items and metallic gadgetry. Dust floated between the generous glows of the corner- mounted tubes of energy. Zachary passed the human skeleton standing there with sharpened pencils crammed into the holes and notches of its skull. It was a symbol of man stripped of protection whose purpose was to hold objects of use. Maybe that was the Master’s interpretation of Galilei; Underworld lived as the skeleton holding up Overworld.
A strange smell hooked Zachary’s nostrils. Of all the sewers he’d stepped in, this was by far the most rancid. Had something died here?
He drew near to the long, polished table in the centre of the room where Master Salvador “Biro” Burton sat observing him. The rear curtain skewered in place by copper rods tempted a grin.
Then, the thump of Zachary’s heart tightened.
On the table lay a male torso. No arms or anything below the waist. Splatters of blood and jagged cuts ran along its light brown skin. Charred muscles overlapped where the neck should have been. Zachary’s eyes swept the floor for dismembered limbs and the head. The rotting smell filled his lungs. A dead body? Here? Whose?
For a man who’d hoarded enough coins to build his own town, the Master’s scrawny state drew pity. Going on seventy years, Biro had entered beyond the final phase of life. Blemishes littered his sunken skin. He looked ill. Diseased. Almost like the skeleton in his room. But what the heck was the Master doing with a corpse? Glaring at the torso, Zachary rubbed his sweaty palms.
Biro twitched with a never-ending shake of his left leg. “Quite extraordinary, isn’t it? They’re now creating them to look like us.” His tone hummed between tainted teeth.
Zachary almost cried out. The corpse was an android! Impossible. It looked – too – perfect. Lines of blood-carrying veins could be made out above the region of the collar bone. Zachary shivered. Androids were pale, almost ghost-like. Where was the streaming-port that every android had on its abdomen? And why the blood, and the muscles?
“I suspect Overworlders are trying to integrate them deeper into their extravagant lifestyle,” continued Biro. “It’s rather artistic, isn’t it?”
“Did you find this?” Zachary gulped. It wasn’t his place to ask a question.
Biro’s smirk lasted a second. “Found in the most intriguing manner. Something almost flawless and no doubt expensive, yet, it came to rest here. Enough of that. Your find?”
Zachary handed over the bracelet. His eyes focussed on the padded curtain which was coloured black to prevent the sneakiest glimpse of the reward behind it. Zachary’s palms moistened as he clenched his anxious stomach. His thoughts stopped lingering on the torso.
After loosening the slim compartment on the bracelet’s edge, the aged Master directed a charged-stylus onto teeny cogs inside. The bracelet illuminated. Frozen in mid-twitch, Biro shuddered at the melody’s beginning. Soft strings gave way to a slowly building drumbeat.
An intensifying harp played, swaying Biro’s pleased face. “Shekhar will give you enough to treat yourself for this find.”
Zachary unhooked the box from his coat.Biro’s gaze sharpened. “What’s inside?” 
“I found it ... empty.” He looked at the curtain, knowing the Master would interpret it without asking.“Going behind will forfeit any reward for the box,” Biro went on, seeing Zachary’s furrowed brow. “Tell me. Why love something so far away?”“It lets me without asking,” replied Zachary.Spinning the bracelet twice to prolong the melody, Biro waved for Zachary to continue. “You need to find yourself a girl”.
There was no point in Zachary fighting the urge. His breathing accelerated. Hands trembling under his chin, he went around the table, and then behind the curtain. Lights sparkled outside the awaiting window with greater strength than a thousand diodes. His heart raced quicker. The melody, behind him, peaked to a thunderous fanfare.
Remnants of Zachary’s breath frosted the glass as his eyes soaked up the atmospheric dense bands of the gas giant of space.
Jupiter.
He’d always thought that there was nothing more intriguing than this planet. Except now. Something new seeped into his mind; something that reduced the gas giant to a ball. Eyes closed, Zachary took a deep breath. He visualised the blurred face of a girl without eyes.
Who was she?

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