It's good to read a book like this every once in a while! I could feel it stretching my brain. But I'm very glad that I won't be tested on its content...moreIt's good to read a book like this every once in a while! I could feel it stretching my brain. But I'm very glad that I won't be tested on its contents! I know I learned from reading this, but I can't say for sure how much.
I could tell that Stephen Hawking was explaining this in the simplest terms possible. To him, it must have felt like he was explaining this so simply that any elementary school student should be able to understand. I enjoyed his conversational tone and his brilliant down-to-earth examples of such grand concepts of the universe. That said, he lost me again and again. If I wasn't well-grounded in so much science fiction literature, movies and TV, I'm not sure I would have been able to follow him at all. :) Although my chemistry, physics, and other science classes in high school and college helped some as well.
I also enjoyed finding hints of Stephen Hawking's sense of humor about every 10 pages or so. Finding the occasional phrase that made me chuckle really helped me progress through the text. Some examples:
While explaining antiparticles: "There could be whole antiworlds and antipeople made out of antiparticles. However, if you meet your antiself, don't shake hands! You would both vanish in a great flash of light."
When explaining grand unification energy: "But a machine that was powerful enough to accelerate particles to the grand unification energy would have to be as big as the Solar System--and would be unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate."
While speaking of theories regarding black holes: "It is greatly to be hoped that some version of the censorship hypothesis holds because close to naked singularities it may be possible to travel into the past. While this would be fine for writers of science fiction, it would mean that no one's life would ever be safe: someone might go into the past and kill your father or mother before you were conceived!"
I was surprised at the frequent mention of God in a book that is all about science. I suppose contemplating such concepts as the origin of the universe does lend itself to at least consider God and his role - even if it is in an attempt to explain away the possibility of God by using scientific theories. Although it didn't seem like he was completely discounting the possibility of God, just that he felt at some point in the future there may be a scientific theory which would explain why we and the universe exist which means that humans would then understand the mind of God. He said, "The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may nor may not be divinely inspired." Also:
"With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws.... So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?"
One of the reasons I read this is because it is on the Lost literature list. One of the show's characters is shown reading the book, and it's also shown in Ben's room. Also, Eloise Hawking shares the author's last name. It also relates due to the time travel aspect and, as I discussed above, the concept of faith versus science.
I enjoyed this more than I expected. I'm very grateful he didn't include complicated mathematical formulas! As I said, it's good to read something like this every once in a while. But now I'm looking forward to getting back to some fiction! 3.5 stars.(less)
If your cat could time travel, which nine places and times would he choose to visit? Well, Lloyd Alexander's cat would go to Egypt in 2700 BC, Rome an...moreIf your cat could time travel, which nine places and times would he choose to visit? Well, Lloyd Alexander's cat would go to Egypt in 2700 BC, Rome and Britain in 55 BC, Ireland in 411 AD, Japan in 998 AD, Italy in 1468, Peru in 1555, The Isle of Man in 1588, Germany in 1600, and America in 1775. Lloyd Alexander's cat would also take his friend, Jason, along with him on these nine time traveling visits.
This is not your typical type of time travel. As part of his cat's time travel magic, Jason is immediately dressed to match the period of wherever they visit. He also immediately understands and speaks whatever language necessary. These visits are more about the time period, the people, and whatever it is that Jason and Gareth (the cat) need to help or to teach those they meet - usually with a focus on cats.
This is the book that started it all for Lloyd Alexander and children's literature! He says in the author's note at the beginning of the book: "Beginning with Time Cat, I became devoted to writing books for young people. I found myself able to express my own deepest feelings more than I had ever done before. It was the most creative and liberating experience of my life." And it was the research that he did for Time Cat that started him on the way to writing the Prydain Chronicles!
This is another book that I had started, but never finished. Yet this one I always meant to get back to, and I'm sad that it took me so long to finally get to it! At first I thought this was going to be like nine of the Magic Tree House books or nine of the Time Warp Trio books put together. But Lloyd Alexander is a master at his craft, even in his first children's book. With each country and time visited, the characters and settings become more and more fleshed out. This is a quick read, but well worth it. And I really love how he wrapped everything up. I highly recommend this for Lloyd Alexander fans, anyone who likes to read time travel stories or historical fiction, and all cat people!
I added two quotes from this book to my favorite quotes here on Goodreads. The first is from the author's note and the other is from the text of the book itself, Gareth talking to Jason:
"Books can truly change our lives: the lives of those who read them, the lives of those who write them. Readers and writers alike discover things they never knew about the world and about themselves."
"The only thing a cat worries about is what's happening right now. As we tell the kittens, you can only wash one paw at a time." (less)
Wow. Easily five stars. This is a MUST for all Madeleine L'Engle fans - and anyone who enjoyed watching The $20,000 Pyramid game show! Once I really g...moreWow. Easily five stars. This is a MUST for all Madeleine L'Engle fans - and anyone who enjoyed watching The $20,000 Pyramid game show! Once I really got started, I didn't want to stop until I had finished. And even once I reached the end, I went back and reread some parts again.
I loved the writing style with short chapters, most with titles that could be categories on The $20,000 Pyramid game show and applied in some way to the events in the chapter. The short chapters also moved the story along quickly, giving you just enough detail to make you wonder at the mysterious events and want to continue. As the story progresses, you start to realize that even some of the mundane events might have great significance. I'm not going to give too much detail, though, because this one is best enjoyed by not knowing too much about the plot before you read it.
I definitely want to read this again sometime, and I also need to see if I can get my hands on a copy of Rebecca Stead's first book, First Light. I could definitely see this winning the Newbery award.(less)
I had mixed feelings about this one after reading some of the reviews, but I ended up quite liking it. It is an interesting take on time travel and vi...moreI had mixed feelings about this one after reading some of the reviews, but I ended up quite liking it. It is an interesting take on time travel and virtual reality. I liked the twists and turns of the plot. The author says he doesn't like the term "children's books" and describes Bunker 10 as a "dark, adult novel in which the heroes (and some of the villains) just happen to be kids." I would say this is a good book for older teens who like video games. It was a quick read and very action-packed. There is quite a bit of violence and killing, so I definitely wouldn't suggest this for younger children.(less)
Ted Bell's first YA novel is chockablock* with adventurous ideas. So chockablock, in fact, that I'm afraid he put every idea he's ever had into this o...moreTed Bell's first YA novel is chockablock* with adventurous ideas. So chockablock, in fact, that I'm afraid he put every idea he's ever had into this one story and didn't save anything for his next book. In Nick of Time, we have lighthouses, castles, underground caves, pirates, treasure chests, bilingual talking parrots, Nazis, spies, reclusive millionaires, several types of boats, experimental submarines, aeroplanes, dognapping, and a time travel device invented by Leonardo da Vinci. And that's only in the first 100 pages! All of these elements combine to make a story that is historical fiction, science fiction, mystery, spy thriller, and adventure.
I would have enjoyed this book a lot more with a more focused story. What's wrong with a simple spy thriller set in the time before the start of World War II? Or a time travel adventure to help a great-great-grandfather defeat an evil pirate? Either one would have been nice. Combining all of the ideas in one story made this feel, at times, like a parody of the various genre.
This wasn't a terrible book. I did like some of the characters enough to read to the end to find out what happened to them. But this also won't be on the top of my purchase list for my library. I wanted it to be a fantastically exhilarating read, but it just didn't quite get there for me.
On a side note, I'm really afraid that a sequel will somehow involve a Peter Pan story. I hope he doesn't go that way. There have been too many of those lately.
*Chockablock was used twice within ten pages towards the beginning of the book. The first time, I thought it was fun to see the word in use. The second time, I almost stopped reading. Luckily, he didn't use the word again. Chockablock is a word like "plethora" that needs to be used sparingly - if at all. Too frequent use of a word like that (twice within ten pages is really pushing it) and it just becomes pretentious. Of course, I’ve managed to use it four times in this review. :) (less)
I'm always happy to be back in the world of Pern and its dragonriders - especially when I haven't been there for a while! While Todd isn't Anne, he re...moreI'm always happy to be back in the world of Pern and its dragonriders - especially when I haven't been there for a while! While Todd isn't Anne, he really is the next best thing. I wish it hadn't been quite so long since I had last read Todd's books, though. They deal with this same time period and many of these same characters. I know there were connections I missed or only vaguely grasped. Overall, though, this was enjoyable to read. It didn't quite grab me up and carry me along like most of Anne's books have, but still it was quite enjoyable. Fiona is a great character and a great young Weyrwoman. Hopefully there will be more of her story in books to come! The ending seemed just a touch abrupt. 3.5 stars.(less)
I could "read" this wordless book again and again. Although if the book summary hadn't told me that it was a "meditation on the scientific theory that...moreI could "read" this wordless book again and again. Although if the book summary hadn't told me that it was a "meditation on the scientific theory that dinosaurs were the evolutionary ancestors of birds," I probably wouldn't have made that connection. To me it was just the story of a bird who flew into an open window at a dinosaur museum and was mysteriously transported back to the time of the dinosaurs. I loved finding connections between the two time periods by finding things that were at the museum and also in the dinosaur world. Very fun!(less)
This is a book I wish I would have read with a group or in a class. I think I would have benefitted from reading it with others and discussing things...moreThis is a book I wish I would have read with a group or in a class. I think I would have benefitted from reading it with others and discussing things like the themes and symbolisms while I was reading it. It reminded me a lot of Catch-22, yet this was easier to read and not quite as dark.
It contains lots of recurring things: the "Poo-tee-weet" sound of a bird, the barking of a dog, the blue and ivory color of cold or frozen feet, Three Musketeers (both as a group of three and as a candy bar), and the phrase that Tralfamadorians (the aliens who abduct Billy) say about dead people: "So it goes." Those are just the ones I noticed and remembered while reading. I'm sure there are many more to be found, although I'm not sure that all of these recurring things have deeper meaning.
The obvious Lost connection is Billy Pilgrim becoming unstuck in time and jumping around to different times of his life, just like Desmond. Because of this he knew things that would happen in the future, but unlike Desmond, he never tried to change anything - even his own death.
I don't think this book will ever be a favorite of mine, but I did find it very interesting. I think it is a book you could read again and again and still find new themes, symbolisms and connections.
I found the Tralfamadorian's way of seeing time very interesting: "All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever." (less)
This is John Varley's answer to Jurassic Park - including a mammoth theme park and circus! I was immediately interested in reading this when I read th...moreThis is John Varley's answer to Jurassic Park - including a mammoth theme park and circus! I was immediately interested in reading this when I read the premise: a frozen mammoth is found with a mummified Stone Age man and woman huddled next to it. The man is wearing a wristwatch. Sounds interesting, huh? I recommend it if you like time travel stories with a bit of science, a fair amount of action, a touch of romance, and a cute baby mammoth.
Note: I really liked how the chapter numbers were chronological, even though some of the chapters weren't. Also, now I need to read the "ridiculous" science fiction story Varley mentions about "taking people off of airplanes that were about to crash." It's called Millennium by John Varley. :)(less)
Margaret Peterson Haddix comes up with such interesting ideas around which to base her books. This one begins with an airplane mysteriously appearing...moreMargaret Peterson Haddix comes up with such interesting ideas around which to base her books. This one begins with an airplane mysteriously appearing at an airport. It isn't scheduled to be there. In fact, according to the radar, an airplane DIDN'T land there. But there it is, sitting on the runway with its door open. When Angela, a new employee at the airline, investigates the plane, she finds no pilot, no crew, no adults at all. Sitting in each of the 36 seats is a baby.
This book picked me up and wouldn't let go! I found myself sneaking in times to listen even when I wasn't in the car, just because I wanted to find out what happened! I'm very glad I knew not to expect a satisfying conclusion. I felt satisfied with the questions that were answered, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Sent, as soon as possible!(less)