This is a pretty typical and run of the mill time travel story. While the characters aren't necessarily unorReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
This is a pretty typical and run of the mill time travel story. While the characters aren't necessarily unoriginal archetypes, they're aren't quite fully developed either. Still, the strength of this story is in the settings -- first, rural Nebraska and second, the bombed cities of Europe and the beaches of Normandy.
The story is pretty straightforward. Matt is mourning the loss of his great great-aunt Violet, who was always a little mischievous and doted on him as a child. Before flying back to Oakland after the funeral in Omaha, his mother passes on the old photo album Violet left him, the one he used to pour through as a child. That night, as he gets drunk in his motel room and looks through the old pictures, he settles on the one that used to captivate him, a 19 year old boy with haunted eyes, posing in his army uniform a few weeks before deployment in WWII. That night, Matt dreams of the boy, meeting up in a diner with his aunt now young serving them breakfast as they got to know one another. Soon, through problems with the cheating ex he hasn't (until recently) been able to get over, and various continued dreams as the boy, now man turns darker from seeing death and war, the two slowly get to know one another -- all through Matt's dreams.
I suppose one of the strong points for me was the paranormal like twist to the time traveling. There isn't a time machine, or a specific cause and effect that brings the two together. Their meetings are hazy and unsure, especially afterwards when Matt wakes up again in his own time, over and over again. I liked that there were no complete answers, it left the story open to interpretation.
Also, as I said before, the settings really brought the characters to life, especially the decline of Joseph (the boy in the picture) each subsequent time they meet. From a shy and unsure boy among the cornfields to a hollowed out man with little left to fight for, all framed among hollowed out buildings with rubble crunching under his boots.
This isn't the best time travel story I've read, and the ending wasn't perfect and felt a bit out of sync with the rest of the story, but for the most part I liked it. B-...more
Jason is an agent for the Tempus Institute, someone who travels through time and keeps watch over history. TReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
Jason is an agent for the Tempus Institute, someone who travels through time and keeps watch over history. Though their objective is never quite discussed in the story, the bits and pieces paint a rather bleak picture of the future, Jason's present world. After waking again from a recurring dream of snatches of music he can't seem to remember, he's given one last case to prove himself. Jason's rather flighty in some ways. He goes with the flow for the most part and is pretty well known for not properly briefing himself for his assignments (pointed out rather well when he draws a blank at the mention of James Bond). But Jason knew he had to take this assignment when he saw Sean's picture. Sent only to observe and report back, Jason has a hard time following the rules once he comes in contact with the man in the flesh.
I'm left quite unsure of how I feel about this story. On the one hand, I really like the setup. Jason is a bit of a fish out of water, out of his own time, but he's also in his home city (Wellington, NZ), only in the past and in what is a very different city. He's familiar with some things, and totally ignorant of others, which makes for an interesting dynamic between the two guys once they get to know each other. At the same time, I had quite a few problems with this story. I felt like the story floundered a bit from lack of overall direction (not the immediate relationship, but the world and setup of the plot). We never really know what the Tempus Institute does, although there's a hint at the end of the story. We also don't understand Jason's objective in his mission to visit Sean. On the surface I understood that some mystery was needed, otherwise there wouldn't be a proper resolution to the story. Perhaps my confusion comes from the fundamental way the story is told. We, the reader, are omniscient in the sense that we're told up front that Jason is from the future and we're privy to information on both characters that neither know about the other. Yet, at the same time, we aren't given enough information to see where the story is headed. I felt like I was supposed to have been given all the cards when the characters were ignorant of them, and watch the situation play out. Jason doesn't know, other than "observe only", why he's watching Sean. But then sometimes he alludes that he does know, all the while I was in the dark. Was that confusing enough? That's a bit how I felt. The story could have been straightened out a bit, because while I was reading I always felt like I was missing something. That made the climax of the story less than poignant.
I think the author had the intent of using the difference in time to create an almost mystical connection between Jason and Sean, but because of my confusion I didn't really see it. Jason and Sean move very quickly into insta-love territory, and I just couldn't suspend disbelief enough to feel it. I've heard good things about one of this author's past novels, and I'll definitely try out some of her other work, but unfortunately I couldn't quite connect with this one....more
This is a rather short and simple story. Wallace, who ironically works at one of those Colonial historical hReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
This is a rather short and simple story. Wallace, who ironically works at one of those Colonial historical homes where they dress up and show what life was like without plumbing and electricity, is knocked on his ass by a man in a Victorian suit who appears out of thin air. He explains that his name is Thomas and that this is this second trip using his time machine that he recently built. He needs help exchanging some of his gold for US Dollars and in finding an inn for the night, but after Wallace's terrible and long day at work, he'd rather just take Thomas home with him. Not to mention, Wallace is pretty sure that Thomas is gay, but being from Victorian London and all, is probably pretty scared to admit it if he is.
This was a pretty simple story -- the meeting, Wallace's first confusion and disbelief at Thomas' story, their getting to know one another that evening and Thomas' million questions about the modern era and technology (and Star Wars!), a romantic interlude, then the promise of more. I didn't really feel like either character stood out, they weren't distinct enough in the short amount of time to be more than caricatures. Wallace is a typical, normal gay man, maybe a bit of a single homebody. Thomas is, of course, a genius physicist who plays up is aloof scientist demeanor back in the 1700s so as to keep his homosexuality a secret and avoid the grand parties and balls of high society. He is, of course, cute and nerdy, which I always love, but I would have liked to see them together for more time so get a feel for their connection. Similarly, the sex didn't stand out to me because of the lack of significant distinction in their characters.
There were a few times where I noticed Thomas speaking like a typical american instead of like a man from Victorian London. He once said "I totally…" as in I totally blah blah blah which seemed as out of place to me as if he'd like, used like for every other word ;) Still, for those that aren't too picky and like the out of time feeling from time travel (I love a character who has lots of fun questions!), this is a good and uncomplicated time travel story. I did wonder if the author plans to write more about this couple, because the ending was left very open… Perhaps we'll find out. A solid C....more
This was an all-around heartwarming read that I really enjoyed!
Anthony is an A-List Hollywood actor who wakes up on the day of his 50th birthday alone and regretful. He has everything now that he thought he wanted -- he has a brilliant career that he got by sacrificing everything that would now make him happy as his career naturally declines with his aging looks. He spends that evening at a fundraiser for Berkeley, his alma mater as a guest of honor and runs into his old flame. Well, Rob is the only man that Anthony ever really felt he could come to love, and they never even got to have their first date. All those year ago in college, he finally wore Rob down until he agreed to a date, then stood Rob up for an audition that turned out to be the big start of his career. But seeing Rob again brings up all those old feelings, especially seeing Rob on the arm of another man. He wishes he could go back and change everything, now that he's realized that having Rob would have meant so much more than fame, fortune and adoration by millions.
This second chance story is a very, very common plot, but one that is sort of tried and true. It seems like every other year another movie comes out with this same plotline. I think that these authors (who this is their first published story, by the way) could have easily changed this plot to make it new and exciting but I'm glad they stuck with the simplicity of it. The writing is solid and very easy flowing and the story works because since we've already seen this plot over and over, the story becomes about the characters, and I really liked them.
Anthony is the one that gets a second chance here. He's our narrator and as the story moves through time we get to see him at different points of his life. From, at 50, almost tired and in a since finally grown up, but way too late -- to back in his college days, where we get memories of how shallow and driven he is towards his career, then shown through the light of his newfound understanding after having gone back in time. This is shown well through the first meeting after the time shift. Rob is Anthony's Shakespeare tutor and even while Anthony has been trying to wear Rob down and get him to date him, he's also been shallow and he doesn't care at all about Shakespeare, preferring new, modern words and roles to play. He doesn't understand Shakespeare at all, nor try to. Seeing him then, after he's in effect finally matured to Rob's level (now being a 50 year old in his young body), he understands and uses Shakespeare to show Rob that he's really serious about life and getting to know Rob. That was one of my favorite scenes, which worked well as one of the scenes where the character is shown just a bit out of place and time.
I'll definitely be reading anything this duo publishes in the future. LIke I said, I really enjoyed this story because it didn't try to mess with such a solid and well-known plot. Other's might disagree, because this is a story that we've read and seen in movies before. Still, the characters here make this story original, and I really enjoyed them. I don't really have any complaints and I'm happy to give this story an A- rating!...more
This is a story of many different relationships and factions coming together. Jeritt iReview is originally posted at Brief Encounters Reviews
This is a story of many different relationships and factions coming together. Jeritt is in love with Frost, his husband and they're a team of time travelers. Jeritt is a Scourge and equipped with an embedded compass, keeps and watches over the shifts in time, correcting wrongs and setting paths to rights. He has one regret, however happy his current life is with Frost in the very distant future -- that he lost his relationship with his best friend and former partner Brekin. But Brekin is rogue somewhere in the past, and Jeritt feels a duty to try to find him and convince him to come back before the plan that is already set in motion and out of Jeritt's hands will find his friend killed. But when he and Frost go looking for him, nothing turns out like he thought it would.
There's quite a bit going on in this story, and while I felt like it did come together and I was only lost a few times, it was still a little too rushed for my liking. There are large shifts in time (relative time) where the story relies on thin narration to progress and save space in such a short story. While I understood why this happens, it really lessoned some of the emotional impact later in the story.
You know how when something gets pretty complicated and has to rely on some exposition to explain it? I found that happening quite a few times, and even though I ultimately liked this story, I could only conclude that this plot was just too much for a short story. Beside the fact that the time travel and all the implications of such a thing take a bit to puzzle out, especially when they're so central to the story in the way it is here, I found myself wanting some of that time to get more of the relationships, both between Jeritt and Frost and between Jeritt and Brekin. Some of this could have been set up beforehand, but again, that would have made this a much longer story. Still, it is one that I would have really enjoyed reading.
I liked these characters. The nature of the plot is really about misunderstanding, especially between friends in a really natural and understanding way, and because of the premise of the story, we get to see different sides of both Jeritt and Brekin. I appreciated that, even in the limited capacity that we see them, especially Brekin. Frost's purpose is really to serve as the support system for Jeritt. He's total Alpha material, growly and arrogant at the same time, and while their relationship is the focal point of the first part of the story, it still felt a bit outside of the story for me (told in memory).
This is good story, even though I was picky with some of the details and the delivery of the story. I sometimes get frustrated with short stories that are really undersized novels or novellas. What really frustrates me is when that is needless, like a contemporary story. That isn't the case here and I understood why the story is written as it is, but it still made it a difficult read and too rushed for me....more