“We all have a past. Some people just can’t let go of it.”
Ross and Claire are newlyweds, honeymooning in Scotland when tragedy strikes. Shortly befo“We all have a past. Some people just can’t let go of it.”
Ross and Claire are newlyweds, honeymooning in Scotland when tragedy strikes. Shortly before the two are due to leave for home, Claire becomes ill and ends up in a coma in the hospital. Ross becomes completely overcome with grief, unable to come to terms with what is happening and ends up in an accident and blacks out. He wakes up in the year 1333.
‘I marvel at the fact that I haven’t broken out in hives. Apparently, not only has my eyesight improved, but my allergy to horses hasn’t transferred to this time period, either.’
I blame Outlander on my time-travel obsession. I also blame Outlander for my high expectations when it comes to time-travel. I’m able to count on one hand the amount of time-travel books that managed to work for me. Unfortunately, this was not one of them. There weren’t any special stones or portals that sent Ross back in time, instead he was run off the road while riding his bicycle by a semi and tumbled down a hill. He woke up in another time in completely different clothes with renewed eyesight and a curious lack of his typical allergies. Instead of going back in time as himself, he went back in time and took over the life of one of his ancestors (à la Assassin’s Creed, just replacing the Animus with a grassy hill). It worked yet it didn’t and was cause for some serious confusion later as the story develops.
The historical aspects of this novel were well-done and felt very authentic but the incorporation of time-travel bits and a modern man in a medieval world felt clunky and strange. The biggest issue I had was with Ross, the main character, and his complete lack of a spine throughout the entirety of the novel.
‘I’d signed up for a fencing class during my freshman year of college, but during the first session my impulse whenever my opponent thrust his rapier at me was to roll up in a ball on the floor and cover my head with my hands. I quickly switched to bowling class.’
He improved somewhat as the novel progressed, but he was an irritating character from the beginning which made it difficult considering the entire story was told from his point of view. We’re given past glimpses into his childhood that were clearly meant to provide reason behind his meek and submissive personality but it still didn’t work for me. The time period did succeed in maturing him and turning him into a ‘manly man’ but even then there were passages that were clearly meant to show his character development that were slightly ridiculous.
‘Somewhere a lamb, trapped in the ruins, bleats. I slow, keening my ears, and finally see it, its pink nose pressed between the bars of a wooden fence that has been pushed over. The small building next to it is still on fire. Adam sees it, too. He glances at me, shrugs in pity and goes on. A gap opens up between us and I dark after him, the lamb forgotten.’
If this was intended to show his growing manliness it was a big fail. The character was a total coward, completely spineless and while he was a little less cowardly by the end he failed to generate any sympathy from me and his plights.
The romance(s) were a big hot mess. We’re first introduced to Ross and Claire who are on their honeymoon yet Claire is constantly making fun of him, all in the name of playful teasing of course, and their spark couldn’t light a campfire if their life depended on it. When Claire becomes ill, Ross is distraught while contemplating life without her but it felt more like he was distraught about just being alone and didn’t have anything specifically to do with Claire. He wakes up in 1333, already resigned to the fact that he’s going to lose Claire and it immediately became oh! I have a wife here and another chance to love. The icing on the cake is the simple justification at the end, explaining everything with a pretty bow on top. It was a bit too perfect for my liking.
In the Time of Kings is a historical fiction romance with a time-travel twist but was lacking in both characterization and romance. The historical fiction bits strongly showcased the authors abilities and will appeal to fans of the genre....more
Jeff Winston is given a unique opportunity when amidst a mid-life crisis of sorts at the age of forty-three, talking to his wife on the phone, he hasJeff Winston is given a unique opportunity when amidst a mid-life crisis of sorts at the age of forty-three, talking to his wife on the phone, he has a heart attack and dies. Yes, this is only the beginning of his story. When he wakes up, he’s confused by his surroundings and thinks he must be dreaming because he hasn’t seen the inside of his dorm room since he was eighteen years old. Except he really is eighteen, all over again. He has the opportunity to do everything differently and he starts by using his knowledge of the future by betting on the Kentucky Derby and creating the start of his fortune. He becomes more successful than he ever could have imagined in his first life, he’s happy and healthy and while this life isn’t without its flaws he feels it to be far superior than the first go around. And then he turns forty-three, has yet another heart attack at the same exact moment, blacks out, and reawakens once again at eighteen.
Something really resonated in me with this book and I absolutely adored the time I spent reading it. Replay is so spectacularly simplistic yet bursting with brilliance. While it’s tagged as a time travel novel, it’s of a very different sort. With each replay, Jeff retains all knowledge of the past while constantly returning to his younger self. There’s a distinct lack of anything supernatural or science fiction, or even an answer as to why this was happening to him period. While you won’t be able to stop yourself from wondering about the why of it all, Replay’s real focus is more on the profound and of the components of what makes life worth living.
At one point or another, we’ve all wondered “If I could go back in the past, would I do things different?” If given the opportunity, knowing the things we know based on the lives we’ve led, would we attempt to try to change things in hopes of creating a better future for ourselves? While I fully agree that our experiences in life is what truly makes us who we are, and I’m pretty satisfied with the way I turned out, I still can’t help but think of the myriad of possibilities of what could be changed or at least slightly altered. In Replay, even though it is told from the point of view of a fictional character, you can’t help but feel as if you’re being given the opportunity to replay based on the way he chooses to live his various lives. His immediate reaction to second chances is money and he spends his life making millions only to discover by the next replay that it never quite made him as happy as he had expected it to. So in the next life he focuses on something different. One thing he does begin to realize is that no matter what life you choose to lead, something is bound to go wrong, even with a knowledge of the future and of memories of past actions. Even with the opportunity to replay, there’s never a guarantee that you’ll end up with anything close to perfect, you just learn to work with what you’re given and make it the very best possible.
All life includes loss. It’s taken me many, many years to learn to deal with that, and I don’t expect I’ll ever be fully resigned to it. But that doesn’t mean we have to turn away from the world, or stop striving for the best that we can do and be. We owe that much to ourselves, at least, and we deserve whatever measure of good may come of it....more
'We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. FoMy rating: 4 of 5 stars Source: Library Checkout
'We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal.'
A Wrinkle in Time is a story of three children and their travels through the universe to find a young girl's lost father. Meg Murry is a self-conscious child who is constantly critical of herself. Charles Wallace is Meg's younger brother and is a genius but does whatever he can to keep a low profile. Calvin O'Keefe is the complete opposite of the siblings but crosses paths and quickly becomes a vital link to their exploits.
The setting of A Wrinkle in Time is a strange mixture of genres and isn't easily categorized. It's about fantasy and adventure but religion and the battle between good and evil play a major part which is what has led to this book being challenged throughout the years. In A Wrinkle in Time Charles Wallace requests that Calvin read him a bedtime story from The Book of Genesis, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which are all three described as being guardian angels and messengers of God, and several bible quotes are strewn throughout. Yet fundamentalist Christians have an issue with the New Age elements, the blending of religion and science and how the book never comes out truly as a religious text but is left open to interpretation as to how literal the Biblical aspects truly are.
While a Wrinkle in Time is listed as a children's book, it's heavy with literary allusions that children won't likely understand completely. Heck, I'm still contemplating it. Not only are there philosophical references and historical figures mentioned aplenty but the interpretation of how time works, the explanation of a tesseract, The Black Thing and IT and Camazotz is not simple to understand. But that lack of understanding and a slight obliviousness may be what makes this ultimately enjoyable for children. This is the first time I have read this having missed out on this as a child, and while I did enjoy this and will likely pick up the remaining installments this definitely left me contemplating how there are some things that simply can't be rationalized or made complete sense of....more
Greta Wells is devastated after losing her twin brother FelMy rating: 4 of 5 stars Source: Library Checkout
'The impossible happens once to each of us.'
Greta Wells is devastated after losing her twin brother Felix to AIDS and after her long term partner Nathan also leaves her. Burdened by a deep depression that is slowly getting the better of her, she takes the advice of her Aunt Ruth and visists a doctor who recommends electroconvulsive therapy. Ironically, right before her first session she considers, "How I longed to live in any time but this one. It seemed cursed with sorrow and death."
The night following her first session she goes to sleep in 1985 and arises the next day in 1918. She wakes up as herself just under slightly different circumstances: her brother is alive and she is married to Nathan but is in love with a younger man named Leo. She discovers that her 1918 self is also undergoing electroconvulsive therapy and again, the night following her session she arises the next day in another time; this time in 1941. The cycle continues: 1985, 1918, 1941 and so on for 25 treatments.
"You’re all the same, you’re all Greta. You’re all trying to make things better, whatever that means to you. For you, it’s Felix you want to save. For another, it’s Nathan. For this one, it’s Leo she wants to resurrect. I understand. Don’t we all have someone we’d like to save from the wreckage?"
This is a time travel story, yet it's not really. It touches on the possibilities of past lives and how your actions resonate to future lives and reincarnations of a sort. Because while 1985 Greta is traveling to her past selves, these individuals she's 'taking over' for are also on the same adventure and they're all trying to correct past mistakes and secure their own happiness.
"Is there any greater pain to know what could be, and yet be powerless to make it be?"
The heart of the story is of course Greta, her lives, and the individuals she loves in these lives. It's a tale of romance and how each Greta found (and loved) Nathan but after experiencing each of these lives a wrench gets thrown into the works as she is forced to consider the possibility that he is not her one true love, that she's been blinded into repetition and is only resorting to what she knows.
While each life could easily showcase the historical detailing of the time, this is glazed over. In 1918, we have the flu epidemic and World War I is ending. In 1941, World War II is beginning. In 1985, we have the AIDS epidemic. While living in these time periods, Greta maintains a certain absence as if she's truly just a visitor and isn't quite experiencing the moments around her. For someone who said, "...not all lives are equal, that the time we live in affects the person we are, more than I had ever though" I really wished to see the transformation of her character due to her environment and the impacts her surroundings had on her as a person.
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is treated as a serious tale of time travel yet is rife with flaws in its design. A definite suspension of disbelief is required because of how truly 'Impossible' the story is. Despite this (and the crazy unraveling that occurred at the end), it all managed to still work. It would be easy to nitpick it to death but in all actuality, time travel is not an exact science and different variations are definitely possible and this was quite an original interpretation of it. The story of Greta Wells is an imaginative tale about past lives and the implausible impossibility of "what if"....more
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars A copy of All Our Yesterdays was provided to me by Disney Hyperion for review purposes.
"Time travel isn't a wonder; it’s an aMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars A copy of All Our Yesterdays was provided to me by Disney Hyperion for review purposes.
"Time travel isn't a wonder; it’s an abomination."
Em and Finn are the only two that can stop the creation of a time machine; a machine that will destroy the world. They've succeeded in traveling back in time fourteen times but those trips have only resulted in failure. This is their fifteenth trip and Em has finally realized exactly what is required to stop it for good. The note she finds written in her own handwriting tells her: "You have to kill him."
This was a breathless thrill-ride with a few twists I didn't see coming. The alternating points of view between the present-day Em and her past self, Marina, was my favorite part of this novel and I loved being able to see the vast differences between the two and how the harsh realities of the world transformed her and those close to her. The two storylines were slightly hard to follow until they came together in the end but was still a delight.
The characters themselves felt like cardboard cutouts at times and I thought it was a bit far-fetched the things they were capable of (geniuses creating time machines and all that). My main gripe is Em though. She wakes up in a prison and is tortured for information each and every day. She finds the note that she wrote herself the last time she traveled back in time and knows what she has to do to right all the wrongs and to keep her and Finn both from winding back up in a prison cell. She has to kill him. But she wastes several opportunities she had to kill him and I realize that she cares about this person she's supposed to kill but it just seemed reckless. Obviously if she's gone back in time 14 times and hasn't been able to change things any of the other times, she's gotta do what she's gotta do.
The time travel concept was definitely interesting and seemed to be fairly unique however I couldn't help but have issue with a few possible holes in the concept. Foremost is that Em and Finn continued to go back in time yet it never seemed that their actions were having any sort of impact on the past (and at the same time the future). When they kept going back in time trying to correct past wrongs and they failed to succeed they inevitably seemed to go back to the same future as if everything they had done was etch-a-sketched out. That seemed entirely implausible especially considering the note. In each instance that Em went back in time she would write herself an update letting her know what she had planned to do so that she would know what not to do the next time in case she failed. I understand that time travel isn't a concrete science but the concept did provoke a bit of disbelief.
I really loved the idea of the concept but there were a few holes that I couldn't overlook. If you're able to read this without over-analyzing things I can imagine this would be vastly more enjoyable. Setting all issues aside, this was a fun read and was definitely thrilling. I have absolutely no idea how a sequel will work considering how things ended but I'm still interested enough to read and see....more
My rating: 5 of 5 stars A copy of Life After Life was provided to me by Reagan Arthur Books/Netgalley for review purposes.
"What if you had the chance tMy rating: 5 of 5 stars A copy of Life After Life was provided to me by Reagan Arthur Books/Netgalley for review purposes.
"What if you had the chance to do it again and again, until you got it right? Would you do it?" -Edward Beresford Todd
This is the story of Ursula Todd's live(s), and of her death(s), and of how she lives when given a second chance. Each time she dies (and returns) she obtains a sense of deja vu from her past lives. She uses these bits of knowledge from these previous scenes of life to "get it right" and to change the outcome of her life now. Practice makes perfect after all.
The writing was flawless, albeit a tad hard to grasp at first. There's a constant flipping back and forth between time and it was supremely difficult to determine which story went with which one, however it all comes together in the end. I found it best to simply read, absorb, and watch the story unfold without putting too much thought into it or keeping notes regarding what is happening with each date (speaking from personal experience, it's completely unnecessary).
"No point in thinking, you just have to get on with life. We only have one after all, we should try and do our best. We can never get it right, but we must try."
Despite her multiple chances to "get it right", Ursula did not always succeed. She may have avoided one obstacle she encountered in a previous life only to run into another. As Ursula said, "We can never get it right, but we must try." Life isn't perfect, and even if you had multiple chances to go back and change things it still won't be perfect. I think it also meant that sometimes we need to experience these imperfections in order to truly know how to "get it right".
It was amazing to watch each scene transpire and be able to witness how one single act not only resulted in evading death (the second time around of course) but how drastically different her life often was. But what was even more amazing was finishing the story and fully grasping all the story lines that had been going on and having them all come together harmoniously. There truly aren't enough adjectives in existence for me to properly describe how truly amazing I found this book to be. Life After Life was genius, superbly written, intricately detailed, and capable of an emotional resonance you won't see coming....more