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Weighing Shadows

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A new time-traveling fantasy from National Book Award-winner Lisa Goldstein.

Ann Decker fixes computers for a living, and in the evenings she passes the time sharpening her hacking skills. It's not a very interesting life, but she gets by—until one day she's contacted with a job offer for a company called Transformations Incorporated. None of her coworkers have ever heard of it before, and when Ann is finally told what the company does, she can hardly believe it: TI has invented technology to travel in time.

Soon Ann is visiting a matriarchy in ancient Crete, and then a woman mathematician at the Library of Alexandria. But Transformations Incorporated remains shrouded in mystery, and when Ann finally catches her breath, there are too many troubling questions still unanswered. Who are Transformations Incorporated, and what will they use this technology to gain? What ill effects might going back in time have on the present day? Is it really as harmless as TI says?

When a coworker turns up dead, Ann’s superiors warn her about a covert group called Core out to sabotage the company. Something just isn’t right, but before she has time to investigate, Ann is sent to a castle in the south of France, nearly a thousand years in the past. As the armies of the Crusade arrive to lay siege, and intrigue grows among the viscount’s family, Ann will discover the startling truth—not just about the company that sent her there, but also about her own past.

328 pages, Paperback

First published October 6, 2015

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About the author

Lisa Goldstein

88 books93 followers
Aka Isabel Glass.

Lisa Goldstein (b. November 21, 1953 in Los Angeles) is a Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award nominated fantasy and science fiction writer. Her 1982 novel The Red Magician won the American Book Award for best paperback novel, and was praised by Philip K. Dick shortly before his death. Goldstein writes science fiction and fantasy; her two novels Daughter of Exile and The Divided Crown are considered literary fantasy.

Elizabeth Joy "Lisa" Goldstein's father was Heinz Jurgen "Harry" Goldstein (b. June 08, 1922 in Krefeld, Germany; d. May 24, 1974 in Los Angeles), a survivor of concentration camp Bergen-Belsen; her mother, Miriam Roth, was born in Czechoslovakia and survived the extermination camp Auschwitz. Her parents came to the United States in 1947 and met in an ESL class.

She has published two fantasy novels under the pen name Isabel Glass. She chose to use a pseudonym to separate the novels from her other work. The "Isabel" is from Point Isabel, a dog park, and "Glass" was chosen because it fits Tor's requirements for pseudonyms.

With her husband since 1986, Douglas A. "Doug" Asherman, she lives in Oakland, California.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews
Profile Image for Alicia.
3,145 reviews35 followers
August 31, 2015
Here's the thing: this book was frustrating as hell, because it came SO close to being REALLY good, and missed the mark. I wish an editor had really kind of dug in and asked for certain things to be developed more, because it feels like there's stuff missing. But the premise is great!! A young woman is recruited by a mysterious agency that it turns out sends people back in time to make small changes!! What, I love time travel! But there is definitely not enough disbelief about the whole time travel concept from the recruits. And then someone from within the agency who disagrees with their mission turns up, and the main character is like "what, I love the agency and am super loyal to them, you're crazy" and we have never seen her be grateful or happy about the agency at all, really. Major telling, not showing. But towards the end the plot gets so interesting, there is some great stuff with patriarchal vs matriarchal societies and female goddesses that I loved, plus fun time travel shenanigans. I really liked that part! The first half just feels so rushed and underdone, though. And historical dudes are always threatening to rape the main character (at least three rape threats!) which I could have done with less of. Bleah. B.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in November.
Profile Image for The Book Adventures.
35 reviews4 followers
October 16, 2015
As always, you can find the full review and similar reads on The Book Adventures

Fellow Book Adventurers, the only thing I did not like about this book was that there wasn’t enough of it.

I’d read Goldstein before – The Red Magician, which I reviewed a year ago, opened my eyes to Jewish magic, set in the Holocaust. With Weighing Shadows now behind me, I am determined to catch up on everything she’s written.

Ann Decker, our heroine, is a loner. A foster child with a difficult past, she employs her hacking skills at a small computer maintenance shop, fixing customers’ computer problems. Until the day she is followed home by a strange woman, who, even more strangely, offers her a job. Intrigued, Ann goes through the interview process and accepts the job – even though she is not told what the job is until after she accepts . (Demonstrating a surprising lack in survival skills here, but we can ignore that).

Turns out, this organization time travels. Purportedly to fix the past so in the future humans don’t destroy the world. So, as you might expect, she’s really excited about going on her first assignment, to ancient Crete. Society is matriarchal, with a queen who takes a consort for seven years (the Minos), before sacrificing him to the goddess, Kore. Unfortunately for Ann’s time-traveling team, things go wrong. Before she can blink, they’ve been arrested on suspicion of treason. On the trip, Ann encounters another time-traveler, one who warns her that the Company is not at all benign.

I loved the descriptions of the ancient and medieval worlds that Ann gets to travel to, the societies and the individuals shine. The clothing, the streets, the housing. We get little glimpses of fully realized cultures. I love time travel stories for that reason. When the narrator is entirely new to the world, the author has more leeway to describe everything, because the narrator, along with the reader, is trying to make sense of her new surroundings. The narrator and the reader share a perception that is not possible when the narrator is familiar with the landscape. Goldstein shows her readers just enough to tell us exactly how things are, without going into unnecessary detail.

The plot can only be described as feminist. Ann soon finds out that the company she works for has a bias toward patriarchies and male-dominated societies. Supposedly, in all their time-modeling, they have discovered that the way to “save” the future is to eliminate or stall gender-balanced or matriarchal societies. Ann’s knowledge leads her to an important choice, and a difficult one. Does she follow the company’s lead and change the past to save the future, or does she change the past to save the present? To decide, she has to balance the future destruction of the world against present injustice toward women.

This is a science fiction book that takes a stand in the classic fashion of the genre, and the writing is so good that it’s also one of the most entertaining little novels I’ve read all year. If I had had more time to read this, I would have devoured it in 2 days. The pace flies, and I just wanted to eat up all the historical settings and people. Obviously, this really hit the spot for me. I recommend it to all science fiction fans, especially fans of time travel. Check it out. November 3rd.
Profile Image for Jeff Raymond.
3,092 reviews180 followers
October 9, 2016
The best compliment I can give Weighing Shadows is that it's a great time travel story that would be better served as a television show. The time travel elements are almost too light, and the plot too easily compartmentalized, thus creating an overall story that is okay and kind of pulpy, but never takes off into something more significant. Thus the television comparison - the jump from time to time, from point to point, would just be a little more sensible within the construct of what this story established.

I'm a sucker for time travel, and this was just okay. I wanted more from what I ended up getting.
Profile Image for Deb.
416 reviews14 followers
February 11, 2017
This is a book with an interesting concept but there were a few things that didn’t work for me at all.

This book starts out just like Time and Again by Jack Finney, with our main character Ann being asked to apply for a top-secret, very mysterious job. Ann gets stopped by a strange woman who asks her to get into her car and go to an undisclosed location to apply for a job she knows nothing about. As I was reading, all I could think was that Ann was clearly getting duped into some kind of sex trafficking ring. But no, she’s actually given the opportunity to jump around in time, explore history, and make subtle changes that will improve how the world turns out.

The Company uses computer algorithms to test which small changes will have positive results --only they expect the time travelers to follow orders without questioning their rationale. Ann meets a fellow traveler who claims that the Company is trying to subvert ancient matriarchal cultures in favor of patriarchal cultures, so that men will be more dominant throughout history. It’s a fascinating idea although it feels a little one-sided in suggesting that all matriarchal cultures are good (less war and no one goes hungry) and all patriarchal cultures are bad.

The history/time travel parts are fun, and I loved reading about ancient Egypt and medieval Carcassonne, but I had some problems with the way this book was written. I felt like this book really lacked the attention to historical detail I want in a time travel novel. The time travelers are schooled in whatever language they need to use and supposedly they learn about the cultures they are visiting as well, but that’s done by magic pill rather than months of training. The dialogue is all written in a modern, casual tone. And finally, I’m not a big fan of when science fiction writers change one or two words to make their language sound futuristic. In this book, “place” is replaced by “tace” (time and place) and “there” is replaced by “thern” (there and then). I find it a distracting device.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Edelweiss and publisher Night Shade in exchange for an honest review. My full review is at http://thebookstop.wordpress.com.
Profile Image for Tracey.
1,078 reviews244 followers
July 18, 2022
Oh, thank goodness, this was part of Audible's Plus Catalog and I did *not* pay for it. I would have paid for it - I have loved Lisa Goldstein's books in the past - but this? Oy.

First and foremost, the narration isn't great. Honestly, it isn't good. I don't think I could listen to eleven hours of it.

More, though ... if a complete stranger - especially one I'd seen following me on several occasions - showed up and offered me a job, declined to give me any details whatsoever (even the address of the company), and insisted on coming to my home to pick me up to be interviewed and tested, I'd probably be on the phone with the police before the echoes of my laughter had died away. If I was mad/careless/stupid enough to - as the main character (Ann, without an E) does - agree to this, and decided to risk being taken to an undisclosed location by a complete stranger (seriously, you don't have to have listened to as many true crime podcasts as I have to know that's a Bad Idea ©), the instant someone said "OK, take off all your clothes and put on a hospital gown and provide samples of blood and urine", I'd be sprinting for the door and the nearest phone. I'd walk home if I had to. Or straight to the police station.

Apart from the sheer implausibility of this opening (time travel, which this is apparently about, is far more plausible to me than this "job interview"), this all sounds a very great deal like Jodi Taylor's Chronicles of St Mary's. However, this came out in 2015; the first book in that series came out in 2016, best I can t - - - wait, no, breaking news: 2013. I may not be able to tolerate Jodi Taylor anymore, but that doesn't mean I want to see her cribbed from. Is there a possibility of spontaneous creation of two similar concepts? Absolutely. Do I want to read either of them? Nope.
Profile Image for Lasa Limpin.
Author 13 books2 followers
November 22, 2017
Excellent time travel conspiracy. The story revolves around Ann who is a loner with a mysterious past. Her introduction to the Company and her slowly evolving issues about how they change time.

I felt that the conspiracy angle worked really well and I found myself bonding with the main character Ann. So much so that at the end of the book I knew I'd miss her! I also had weird dreams from this book which is always a good sign. Definitely give it a shot if you're into realistic time travel books. Scratched my Timeless TV show itch.
Profile Image for Lis Carey.
2,163 reviews94 followers
December 4, 2015
Ann Decker is a young woman with no family, no friends, and no real prospects. An orphan raised in foster care, she didn't make it to college, but she's very good with computers, and has a job in a computer repair shop. She avoids attention as much as possible.

So she's not happy when she notices a woman following her, and is even less pleased when the woman comes into the shop and asks for her by name.

Ann is about to be recruited into Transformations Inc., a company using time travel to attempt to change history to ensure that resources, and human civilization, last beyond the 2370s. Or at least, that's what they say.

The time travel is real. After her training, Ann's first assignment is in ancient Crete.

And it's in Crete that she encounters her first reasons to question the real intentions of the company.

Ann is a character with some real flaws and weaknesses. Her life hasn't disposed her to either trust others, or concern herself with other people when it conflicts with her own interests, and Transformations is the best job she's ever had. She really doesn't want to rock the boat.

But Gregory, a very slightly more experienced Transformations agent whom she's become friendly with, dies immediately on their arrival in Crete, for no apparent reason. The team's "facilitator," or leader, Emerald Walker, is dismissive, abrasive, and, Ann soon concludes, not exceptionally competent or intelligent. An older, more experienced agent in place in Crete is also suspicious about Gregory's death, and hints to her about a secret organization inside Transformations, called Kore--possibly named for the Cretan version of the goddess Persephone.

When Ann starts to see a pattern to the changes the company makes in the past, and coresspondingly notices her own early 21st century time and place getting worse--more restrictive, more repressive, more shortages, and even more rudeness--she starts to wonder if she can keep supporting the company's program. Yet if she decides she can't, what can she do? How can she fight the company?

The character development for Ann and her friends and allies, and even some of her adversaries, is very good, but Walker seemed a bit too unintelligent to be believed, even with the constraints the company is apparently facing. The plot moves, and kept me guessing, and the past cultures visited were portrayed with understanding and subtlety.

Overall, a very good read, or listen, even if it may not make my Hugo nominations list.


I received a free copy of the audiobook from Audible in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tien.
1,828 reviews69 followers
January 17, 2016
Weighing Shadows has a very interesting premise: time travel (I love time travel!) and exploring matriarchal societies / ancient civilizations. I usually lean towards Egypt and haven’t read many in ancient Greece settings however time travel! That alone would usually convince me ;)

Ann Decker is a smart woman but she tries to keep herself as ‘invisible’ as she possibly could as her past experiences have taught her it’s better to keep yourself to yourself. She was flattered when she was head-hunted and then, was too curious to keep to her philosophy of life. Even as she was lured by the temptation of time travelling, Ann soon realised that all was not as it seemed. The matriarchal societies she’s seen was peaceful and prosperous but yet her company seems to seek toppling this hierarchy though she was not explicitly told the purposes of her missions. Each time Ann returned to her own time, she found it changed but not for the better... Ann resolved to investigate the company’s true purpose and fix her world to as she knew it to be.

Interesting theme of the world’s wellbeing shrouded in a curious way by time travel, a different perspective of civilisation and secret societies. Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting this particular theme at all and I’m not actually quite sure whether to laugh or to be concerned. I do, of course, have an interest in the world’s environment however I do think this was a bit of a strange sort of twist.

Whilst I have enjoyed the time travel factor and the mystery surrounding the company, I was not particularly enamoured of the main character nor of the ending’s resolution. I wished there were more exploration of the ancient civilisations and more in-depth development of those characters there (they sounded to be much more interesting than the MC). Overall, not a favourite time travel novel but I’ve become interested enough in the author to check out her other works. If you know her well, please let me know which one to look out for :)

Thanks Night Shade Books for eARC via Edelweiss in exchange of honest review
Profile Image for Stacey.
631 reviews
February 20, 2016
As always, you can find the full review and similar reads on The Book Adventures

Ann Decker, our heroine, is a loner. A foster child with a difficult past, she employs her hacking skills at a small computer maintenance shop, fixing customers’ computer problems. Until the day she is followed home by a strange woman, who, even more strangely, offers her a job. Intrigued, Ann goes through the interview process and accepts the job – even though she is not told what the job is until after she accepts . (Demonstrating a surprising lack in survival skills here, but we can ignore that).

Turns out, this organization time travels.

This is a science fiction book that takes a stand in the classic fashion of the genre, and the writing is so good that it’s also one of the most entertaining little novels I’ve read all year. If I had had more time to read this, I would have devoured it in 2 days. The pace flies, and I just wanted to eat up all the historical settings and people. Obviously, this really hit the spot for me. I recommend it to all science fiction fans, especially fans of time travel. Check it out. November 3rd.
Profile Image for Mike.
17 reviews1 follower
January 5, 2016
I didn't know this was a YA novel when I started it -- though the cover art should have been a big hint! So that's my bad. It's a weird experience starting to read a book and having one set of expectations for the reading level ("Oh, this book is going to be written for literate people who appreciate nuance and beautiful turns of phrase") and not having those met ("Oh, this book is actually written for people who don't read"). I must admit to being quite let down. The characters were flat and boring, as was the plot and the prose.This is the least interesting book about time travel I've ever read. To be fair, I am not the target audience, and I was expecting something different.

I believe this author is capable of: good ideas, better characterization, truer dialogue, and occasional semicolons. Germs of depth and cleverness are to be found, as are hints of a deeper and more profound statement about our society. But this book is wholly disappointing and I must regretfully consign it to the dustbin of one-star books.

Profile Image for Fraser Sherman.
Author 10 books27 followers
January 22, 2016
This is a disappointment. The idea of time travelers manipulating the past to shape the future isn't new, but Goldstein's handling is competent (they aren't pure evil). However Ann, her protagonist, is a cipher: she seems to have no interests (she's a hacker but she doesn't do that much of it), no friends, no goals, no politics until her adventures awaken her. And the underlying theme that the bad guys are trying to repress women's freedom through the centuries has potential, but as executed, it feels like a feminist story from the 1970s (yay mother goddesses!). Surely there's a new angle Goldstein could have added? She must have been doing something right because I read the book fast and eagerly, but ultimately it was an unsatisfying meal.
Profile Image for RIN ಠ_ಠ.
819 reviews2 followers
December 15, 2015
The only reason I'm not giving this 1 star is because I somehow managed to finish it, even if it took a week. I was at least invested in finding out the ending. Which GREATLY disappointed me.

Such a great premise but lacked proper execution. A lot of telling and info dumps and the plot didn't really go anywhere. I can live without knowing how exactly the time traveling works but everything was just too convenient.

Profile Image for Darlene.
202 reviews17 followers
Shelved as 'abandoned'
November 4, 2015
I listened to about 1/4 of this and called it quits. Mostly the narrator's fault. Horrible
Profile Image for D.X. Logan.
Author 1 book
May 14, 2017
Be Warned: Minor spoilers ahead.

I bought this based on the suggestion that the book that was doing something unique with time travel. I began digging in right away and to the book's credit, it was an easy read that I finished after 3 days of casual reading. I wish I could say I liked the book more than I did.

To start, it was not as unique as I indicated. Both the recommendation and the cover information agreed on this point. That isn't the reality. Other books have done almost identical things with time travel. As far as I can tell, the main thing that sets this book apart is its agenda. I will get to that in due time. There were a lot of problems for me with elements of this novel.

For starters, the basic nature of a plot is that it answers a question posed early on in the story. The book doesn't offer a strong question initially beyond "will she join this group?". That's answered right away. If we instead assume that the question of the story is what we read on the cover, it doesn't offer a satisfying answer. At the end of the book, most of our questions remain unanswered. At best, we must make the same (often unrealistic) leaps of logic that the characters made. Okay, so no decent plot, but things do happen and for the early part of the book, they are interesting.

The book suffers from several more fatal flaws, however. One of the most basic things an author needs is to show, don't tell. Much of this book ends up telling. That doesn't help at all with feeling invested. At times, the things told to us aren't even substantiated. For example, there is no evidence ever given to even hint at the reason a character dies early on. We're told by a secondary character that they believe it is because of the company. Even though it is pivotal in moving the story forward, it is never actually confirmed. Speculation isn't the same as a hint that it might be true. It is the character asking herself 'what if' over and over.

Another problem is that the settings get explored in a minimalist manner. Some things were interesting. This includes setting-specific language for time travel (if distracting at times). Such points of interest were minimal. I expect settings in a time-travel novels to be vivid. Except for the first time-period, the majority of time periods were bland at best. The only redeeming aspect is that the choice of time/place was often less common. That meant these were less explored by other works of fiction. I partly suspect that the choice to make only the first location vivid was a plot device. It seems intended to fix that first location as an ideal in your mind. If so, it failed. The locations traveled to were thin veils of cardboard. They existed with only hints of their true natures painted on. The settings were all caricatures, which brings me to the characters themselves.

Oh my. Characters in this book hurt to read. Some of them were fleshed out a bit, but most of them were painfully one dimensional. They acted as plot devices, doing what needed done to move the story forward. Many of the characters were so interchangeable that I can't even remember their names. You could swap one out for the other without any real change to the story. The worst offenders were folks from the future. Walker in specific was too idiotic to be believed. The author tried to explain her away later in the book, but I couldn't buy it. People so weak-minded that she was one of their operatives never would have managed time travel. At least from my perspective.

This plot-device level of idiot behavior appears most towards the end. When our protagonist is in the future, she gets away with things inconceivable in any era. A society that can calculate the effects of moving a vase in ancient times on the present would do better. It wasn't lack of common sense, the team of scientists was outright stupid in behavior. That they not only don't notice her presence, but seem to believe she is one of them is beyond belief. It is a society based on orders and strict controls. Someone just appearing among them without warning... ugh. Someone who seems so clueless especially. I could go on, but I have a lot more ground to cover here.

The most fleshed out of the characters is the protagonist. That isn't a shock of course. What is a shock is how many times I felt like she was a plot device too? She is a pawn used to push a message. She is not missed by the male boss despite her impressive skills. She is noted as growing up anti-religious. Almost immediately embraces using phrases like 'Thank the Goddess'. This while still implying she isn't invested in a faith. This leads to another major flaw in the book. Agenda trumps story.

Our protagonist at one point seems shocked that another woman isn't a feminist. Out of nowhere mind you, though it became clear the novel itself is feminist. It was beyond her conception that this other woman wasn't a feminist. Male-led societies are all terrible, female-led societies are all near-utopias. Any flaws in women societies get downplayed. It's implied that any goodness in male societies is because of the women. The only male character who isn't brutish or evil dies for supposedly supporting the Core (a group working against the company). When a man does something terrible, it is his nature. When a woman does something unforgivably evil, not so much. The protagonist begins to rationalize why it wasn't her fault.

Christianity gets the same treatment. It's an evil patriarchy. Rhe only 'Christian' group worth anything is one that feel the God that created the earth is evil. The author cherry-picks the times, societies and people who most fit these concepts. For the first half of the book, I kept holding out hope that a balance would occur. It never did. You may not disagree, but the world isn't so black and white. There are good and bad people alike in all walks. Men and woman can be terrible leaders or great ones. People of any religion can do evil or good.
The company gets a vague hint of sympathy at the very end, showing that men and women work together as equals. The future improves by actions taken in the past. Too little, too late honestly. More so because the protagonist immediately undoes half of what got improved. That is the greatest frustration with this book. All along, there have been the hints at a much better book buried in the idea. Something that feels real. Something that draws you into it and leads you to sympathy rather than beats you over the head with an agenda.

This review has gotten far longer than I intended when I started. I was going to further go into some of the logical errors and inconsistency issues with the time travel. It's enough to say the company could end the resistance with twenty minutes of consideration. This statement's based on the information the author has given us by the end of the book.

For all of these flaws, I stayed with the book and stayed active in reading it. The unforgivable sin was actually the ending. The last few chapters feel rushed, as if written shorter than the author wanted for the sake of a deadline. I can't say how true that is. The victory, such as it was, was pretty hollow. All around, the ending was unsatisfying and without substance. Nothing of value got resolved and it felt more like a plug at turning this into a series. I am not against a cliffhanger ending leading into other books. I am against doing it without first resolving at least something of value in your first book. To me, a feminist deciding to embrace feminism even further a valuable resolution. At least not by itself.

As an author, I know I am not perfect. Even this review contains flaws and I won't deny it. A good editor can fix some things, but they can't fix a flat story. If you get a copy handed to you, read it. Don't spend much money on it. This was my first book by the author and I kept wondering how she had won awards for her other works. If this had been the first thing she had ever written, she might have disappeared into obscurity. As it stands, I am not going to be looking into any of her other works. This example of her writing has turned me off to her as someone I would want to read regularly.
670 reviews20 followers
December 17, 2017
It's gotten hard for me to read about time travel without Kage Baker coming to mind, but Goldsteins take is independent and fresh. There is a Company which over sees the interventions in history, apparently run by people from a Very Polluted Future-one about ten to twenty years ahead of us. Ann Decker ( I knjow one, but she's not like this one) is drafted into the Company from a dead end position at a small computer repair shop. She was a foster child, never adopted, perhaps becuase of the five scars on her abdominal region. Regardless hte Company first feels like a salvation from her prior life because they offer her education and adventure. But shadows of doubt creep in when one coworker dies on arrival and another is murdered, not to mention a mysterious woman who alludes to a resistance movement within the Company, code word Kore. Ann doesn't get overly attached to her coworkers, aside from the one who is hiding an abusive husband, in part becuase this is the way she's lived her entire life. I didn't care much about her coworkers either, and that's part of Goldstein's magic. The first two thirds of the book escallate into a speedy conclusion, which kind of left me hanging. Perhaps I will be visited by a bee.
Profile Image for Ayla.
96 reviews1 follower
January 15, 2017
Sure the first third of the book was very rushed, but I've read enough time travel books to be okay with the fact that the whole training sequence was reduced to a 10-page montage. I get the drill, no need to dwell. The only thing that made me scratch my head was the level of training the travelers were put through. Because the 5th floor is keeping the why of the missions secret it seems like they barely needed to be trained-- just teach them the language and punt them in for the 48 hours it's supposed to take. Why would you need to know the political situation if all you're told to do is move some lamps around and not think critically about why?

Nevertheless, by the end I was hooked and wondering the same thing as the protagonist-- how is she possibly going to take a stand and make any difference at all? Is this is part of a series? Feels like it, but I can't find the next if it is.

Light read, similar to lots in the genre, but the differences are interesting and will make the rest of the series, if there is indeed to be more, worth reading on a beach.
Profile Image for Deb Oestreicher.
372 reviews9 followers
January 11, 2018

I have read a number of books by Lisa Goldstein. This is not the best.

I wanted to like this more. I really enjoy time travel stories and the plot here is intriguing and somewhat similar to a Netflix show I enjoy, called Travelers. In the distant future, the world is really messed up, so those people use time travel to come back to our present. They recruit people from our present to go back (for example, to ancient Greece, plague-ridden Europe, etc.) to make adjustments that they hope will make the future world better. But they are not very transparent about their objectives and some of their recruits start to get suspicious about the consequences of their activities.

Part of the problem with the book is that the protagonist is not very likable. Neither are the folks from the future. So reading a less enjoyable than it might be because it's hard to identify with the characters much of the time. Another problem is there are an awful lot of explanations about some things (certain technologies or plot developments), and none about others that are very important (someone dies at a crucial point and you never find out whether it was an accident). Then the book just ends. Honestly, I kept turning pages thinking, Is that IT?

If the author were planning a series, the ending makes sense, but otherwise it just stops short in an unsatisfying way.
Profile Image for DustBunniesAndBooks.
108 reviews5 followers
January 6, 2018
Although I normally read Christian fiction, I also enjoy some sci-fi and time-travel. This book, however, had too much of a feminist agenda for me. In addition, there were parts of the story that were just too unbelievable. (I mean who jumps into a car with a stranger to be taken to a job interview?! And then accepts the job before being told what the job really is? Who doesn't ask a lot of questions when told the company uses time-travel to make "little changes" in history?) The story is an interesting concept and a fairly enjoyable read, but not for me.
Profile Image for Dahrose.
560 reviews12 followers
May 8, 2017
Gosh this was a dreary read - and the characters? Woeful. Unlikeable, every last one of them.
I read the first 200 pages and then skipped to the last five chapters - I could have cared that less.
This was boring. There were a lot of secrets being kept - but it was all so dreary I couldn't bring myself to give a damn what they might be.
I trudged and I trudged - but no... enough is enough
Profile Image for Terry.
16 reviews1 follower
July 15, 2017
Surprised it had three pages of such high reviews. I considered only two stars, so 2 1/2 is my rating . The 'made-up' words were annoying. They detracted from the storyline rather than enhance it. I skipped over them where they were used. Even at that, I found two actual grammatical errors so it must have made editing difficult. I enjoyed the basic story, it just didn't seem that well written.
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,032 reviews12 followers
March 11, 2018
Didn't quite live up to its potential. I prefer Jodi Taylor's Chronicles of St. Mary's books.
Profile Image for FJohn Rickert.
38 reviews1 follower
April 6, 2018
It is a well written book. However, the plotting is too slow. I could see this as a TV show, but reading it there was simply to much visual detail compared to the character development or plot.
Profile Image for Linnea.
530 reviews5 followers
November 24, 2019
This book was a complete surprise to me. I bought it because it has a Jo Walton blurb on the cover, and I'm really glad I did! It's a thoughtful look at what time travel would be like and how different groups of people might use it (or misuse it). The writing evokes the joy of travel and also the eerie unnatural feeling that would accompany being out of your own time.
Profile Image for Keith West.
26 reviews3 followers
January 8, 2016
One of my favorite subgenres of science fiction is time travel, so when Night Shade Books sent me a review copy of Weighing Shadows, I was looking forward to reading the book. (Thank you, Brianna Scharfenberg, for sending the review copy.) I wasn’t the target audience for the book, it turned out, but it’s still a well-written novel that will find an audience.

Ann Decker is working in a deadend job in a computer shop when a mysterious woman recruits her for a new job at a company called Transformations Incorporated. At first Ann doesn’t know much about the job, but since she hates working in the computer shop, she takes it.

It turns out that Transformations Incorporated is based in the future and specializes in time travel. They’re trying to improve things in their time period by manipulating events in the past. It’s not long before Ann is approached a resistance group within Transformations Incorporated. The bulk of the novel concerns Ann’s struggles with deciding where her loyalties lie, although it’s not hard to see what her final conclusion will be. The number of times a person can travel in time is limited, so the missions operatives are sent on are chosen carefully. Ann’s first mission is to ancient Crete, her second to the Library of Alexandria, and the third to France in the Middle Ages.

First, what I liked about the book. Goldstein is an accomplished writer who can not only tell a story, but tell it well. She develops a set of terms the time travelers use, such as “tace” to refer to time and place. Goldstein wisely only uses a few of these terms, so that not only are they easy to follow, the quickly become an intergral part of the experience of reading the book. It’s a fine line between the made-up jargon becoming overwhelming and being ignorable. Goldstein makes it look easy.

Goldstein picks some time periods that aren't the typical ones and introduces historical figures many readers may not have heard of. The historical detail is intricate enough that more than once I stopped reading to learn more about the background.

I wasn’t the target audience for this book, and I’ll explain why in the following paragraphs. I will say this, though. Goldstein’s writing kept me reading when I probably would have put the book down for good had it been written by a less capable author.

There were two things though that didn’t work for me. First, the blurb at the top of the front cover refers to the book as doing something different with time travel. Uh,…not really. I know it isn’t fair to Ms Goldstein, but try as I might, I couldn’t help but thinking of the late Kage Baker’s Company series. Baker’s work, of which I am a huge fan, was also about a company from the future engaging in time travel and manipulating events in the past, although Baker’s Company was more sinister and she put more restrictions on changing history. Plus Baker’s series involved immortal time traveling cyborgs and not ordinary people. As far as the basic use of time travel, I didn’t see a huge difference in how the two authors used it. Of the two applications of a company from the future interfering in the past, I prefer Ms. Baker’s. Like I said, I realize the comparison isn’t necessarily fair, and I did my best not to compare the two.

That’s a minor point. The thing that really didn’t work for me was everything moving towards a feminist utopia. I’m not a huge fan of utopias to begin with; I just don’t find them believable. But normally I can go along with the premises behind one if those premises aren’t too unrealistic.

The woman who tries to recruit Ann to the resistance keeps saying that every change the company makes favors patriarchal societies over more feminist societies. (That’s a loose paraphrase on my part.) All the men, except for one who dies early on and may be a member of the resistance, are portrayed as uncaring brutes. The argument the resistance makes boils down to women will always do a better job of governing than men.

I call bullshit. Women are no better or worse than men in general. People are individuals, and they each react to things differently and do things differently. There are good women leaders and terrible women leaders, just as there are good male leaders and terrible male leaders. I wouldn’t have had a problem with Ms. Goldstein’s approach, or the uptoian aspects of the story, if she hadn’t made nearly all of the male characters brutes or bullies, and all of the men who had a major role. All the characters portrayed as good or noble were women. If she had made some of the men more sympathetic, I would have enjoyed the book more. As it was, the longer I read, the more Ms. Goldstein substituted message for story. And while there is an audience for fiction that preaches, I’m not a member of that audience.

Again, this was a well-written novel. While it wasn’t to my taste, I’d be willing to read something else by Ms. Goldstein.
29 reviews
December 27, 2015
I consider myself a fan of the time travel genre and this book did nothing for me. Eaely in the book there was promise after promise made to explain the effects of the actions taken in the various past scenarios; absolutely none of these ever came to fruition. This ultimately meant that no action taken had any real consequence throughout the entire story. The characters were underdeveloped and damn near unimportant. Various characters disappeared and new ones were introduced and it was almost impossible to keep track of who was who because none of them had any defining character or traits. Looking for any sort of character development or arc? You've come to the wrong place. This book follows an uninteresting protagonist as she goes on (shockingly) boring and inconsequential adventures with no sort of effect or impact to speak of. The only part I enjoyed was the very first trip back in time to Kapthor, but even that ended abruptly and unsatisfactorily.

I absolutely do NOT recommend this book.

Forgive the typos and rambling nature of this review--- it was angrily pounded out on my iPhone with zero editing.
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