time travel

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

All Our Wrong Todays

Thanks to Dutton and Edelweiss for the e-galley! And of course, all views in this review are 100% my own.

“Lionel Goettreider read Cat’s Cradle and had a crucial realization, what he called the “Accident” – when you invent a new technology, you also invent the accident of that technology. When you invent the car, you also invent the car accident. When you invent the plane, you also invent the plane crash. When you invent nuclear fission, you also invent the nuclear meltdown.”

“But I have a theory too: The Accident doesn’t just apply to technology, it also applies to people. Every person you meet introduces the accident of that person to you. What can go right and what can go wrong. There is no intimacy without consequence.”

You know how we look at movies like Back to the Future and kind of laugh at how back in the day, everyone thought the future 2016 was going to be crazy futuristic? Hover cars and weird clothes and food in pill form and all that? Well, it really happened! And Tom knows it really happened because that’s the 2016 he grew up in. The Goettreider Engine in 1965 gave the world free, clean energy and propelled the globe into an era of amazing technology. But even in this ridiculously amazing techno-utopia Tom is having a rough time, and then he makes it worse when he has a time travel accident and changes history, landing himself stuck in the crappy version of 2016 that we’re all used to. All he wants is to set the timeline straight and get back to the existence he knows – but at the same time, there are some aspects of his life that are definitely better in our 2016. What’s a wayward time traveler to do?

I had a blast reading All Our Wrong Todays – I flew through it in about 2 days, and it’s definitely one of those books that I had to describe in detail to my husband because I needed someone to talk to about it. It’s super interesting to see Elan Mastai’s version of this ideal world where technology has basically freed us from our daily worries – food, health care, housing, and other necessities of life are now a fact of life, available for all. In this techno-utopia we’re free to focus on the work that we truly want to do – but that doesn’t necessarily erase all of the problems in life. I loved reading about this theory of time travel and how exactly it finally works. Tom is a great narrator – at times juvenile and frustrating, but also incredibly relatable, funny, and poignant. Even when he gets in his own way, I felt myself rooting for him.

One other note – I saw some reviews on Amazon that said something about the women in Tom’s life only being there to help him achieve his goals, and I have to disagree on that. While Tom does some typical crappy guy things, the women in the book DO matter, and I think it becomes more and more apparent as the book moves on just how much those women matter to Tom. So yeah, if you see those reviews… I think one in particular didn’t actually read much of the book, and maybe just try it and see for yourself.

This book comes out on February 7th – mark your calendars so you can get your hands on it right away.

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

BEE RIDGWAY

 

Sadly, I didn’t love The River of No Return the way I was hoping to.

So, Nick is an English dude from the 1800’s who is about to die in a nasty battle when suddenly he transports roughly 200 years into the future to 2003. Cool. An organization called the Guild picks him up, makes him spend a year learning about the modern day along with some other accidental time travellers, and then sends him off with a buttload of money to quiety live the rest of his years in the northeast of America. A decade goes by and Nick is quite accustomed to the fun things of our age – easy women, jeans, cars, watches and all that – but then he suddenly gets a summons from the Guild. They’re sending him on a mission back to his past.

Julia is a young lady in the 1800’s mourning the death of her grandfather. Her giant douche of a cousin shows up to inherit the estate, and he constantly quizzes and berates Julia while he searches for some special object that he thinks gave her grandfather his ability to manipulate time. And then Julia finds out that SHE can manipulate time as well, and must struggle to hide this from her cousin and try to escape his clutches.

So obviously when Nick goes back, he and Julia cross paths (easy enough, since they lived next door) and fall in love, yada yada yada.

Let’s start with the things I really liked about the book, kay? I liked the whole idea of time travel via feelings. Apparently you use emotions to travel along the river of time. Interesting concept. I liked the idea of a secret society (the Guild) and the idea of time travelling, being taught about the time you’re in, and then being sent on your way to just chill. I liked Nick well enough, as well as Julia. They both had spunk, which I enjoyed. I also liked Arkady, who was a grumbly Russian guy who said things like this:

“You are a man. We will save her. Why? Because it’s beautiful and romantic to do so. We will fight this maniac like the men we are – with fists. Why? Because it’s beautiful and romantic to do so.”

How can you not love that?

But now on to the things that made me not love this book…

The thing between Nick and Julia had a hint of insta-love about it. I mean really, it’s very love-at-first-sight.

My biggest complaint: It was so slooooowww. By page 160 (out of 450), the main characters hadn’t even really met yet. By page 300 I was glad that the romance factor was finally picking up but I STILL felt like I was waiting for the story to start. There was so much build-up and mystery to the secret society conspiracies that it seemed to take forever to get anywhere, and I felt just as confused and frustrated as Nick did. And I felt like the end is where things really finally started to happen, which means it ended with some unresolved issues. I’m assuming there might be a sequel, but it’s not confirmed on the Bee Ridgway’s website as far as I can tell.

Sooo yeah. The writing was enjoyable, but the storyline was just way too drawn-out for me. Even if I knew a sequel was coming, I’m not sure I’ll want to read it because it took SO LONG to be set up in this book. I’ll have to wait and see.

I am pretty sure I’m in the minority here – plenty of fellow bloggers read and loved this book, so don’t be discouraged. Give it a try. Maybe The River of No Return just wasn’t my jam.

 

Sarah Says: 2.5 stars

 

 

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon

 

Diana Gabaldon

 

Okay, let’s be honest – this review is only going to interest you if you’re an Outlander fan. Which you SHOULD be, because the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is probably one of the greatest things ever written in the history of the universe.

The Space Between is a novella / short story that was recently published in an anthology The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination. I’m not a big one for short stories or anthologies, so I borrowed this book from the library just to read Gabaldon’s story. It’s also featured in A Trail of Fire (a book of four Outlander and Lord John related short stories), which hasn’t been released in the US yet but is available in the UK.

Anyways, The Space Between is about Michael Murray escorting Joan MacKenzie to Paris, where she plans to join a convent. This is taking place at the same time as the end of An Echo in the Bone, so you should probably only read it if you’re up-to-date on the Outlander series. Michael is grieving for his dead wife and another family member, and Joan is trying to escape some things she doesn’t understand. Events take place, which I can’t mention here (it’s surprising how many spoilers are in an 82-page story), but it DEFINITELY gives a lot of food for thought. I’m wondering now if we’ll see more of Michael and Joan’s stories in book #8 (hopefully to be out late this year) and if so, how much events there will affect Jamie and Claire’s main storyline. Just a hint – Master Raymond appears in this story. I find Raymond SOOOOO intriguing, so this was very exciting. I now have a million questions, but that’s to be expected from such a little teaser.

 Man I love this series.

Sarah Says: 4 stars

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Sci-Fi Novels

 

Good morning ya’ll! Time for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Today’s topic is kind of a freebie, where we get to pick our favorite books of any genre. I chose sci-fi because it seems like an under-appreciated genre, so today’s topic here is Top Ten Favorite Sci-Fi Novels.

 

Neanderthal Parallax #1

1. The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer – This series was so, so, so good. It’s about the idea of a parallel universe in which Neanderthals are the dominant species and we had died out, and how travel between the two universes becomes possible. It really piqued my interest and has led me to search out more about the multi-universe theory and quantam mechanics.

 

2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Trust me, this book is a classic for a reason. Ender is a sympathetic and likable character, in a messed up world where the military searches out kid geniuses to train for the war against the aliens. SUCH an awesome book.

 

3. The Postmortal by Drew Magary – What would happen if scientists developed a “Cure” for aging? No more death from old age, for starters. This is absolutely fascinating novel that explores what it would really mean for us individually and as a society if people really could live forever.

 

4. Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde – Set in a weird parallel world in which time travel is possible, extinct animals are cloned for pets, and where literature is taken VERY seriously, these books are quirky and fun while also encouraging you to imagine the possibilities if this really were our version of the world. I need to read book #4 soon.

 

5. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – Seeing the move just won’t cut it. Asimov’s book does a super-awesome job at exploring the world of robotics and how it could affect us is robots really were that common and super-sophisticated. And since it seems like we’re kind of on our way there, this is a great eye-opener.

 

6. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula le Guin – One dude has dreams, and his dreams become reality. But what happens when an ambitious dream therapist with a god complex finds out and starts experimenting with it? Read it and find out.

 

7. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne – Fantastic book about a small group of people who literally try to get to the center of the Earth and see what’s going on in there. I can see why Verne was such a popular author, especially with young boys. I’m looking forward to reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by him this year.

 

8. The Gate to Woman’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper – After a major apocalyse due to nuclear war, women band together and form a country where THEY are the rulers, and are intent on never letting such a horrible thing happen again. Definitely recommended if you want a nice batch of feminism and sci-fi.

 

9. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula le Guin – You can tell how awesome le Guin is just by the fact that I have her on here twice. In this novel she tackles the idea of gender by creating and envisioning a race on another planet where gender doesn’t exist. Fun thought to try to wrap your head around, and a really good book.

 

10. Serenity comics by Joss Whedon and …. – Just because if you’re a Firefly fan, these comics help a bit. They’re beautifully illustrated and give you a nice quick Firefly-fix if you’re missing it too much.

 

SO, those are my ten! Just coming with this list though makes me realize how much more sci-fi I want to read… I need to work on that. So do you have any favorite sci-fi novels?

~Sarah

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows by Diana Gabaldon

So, Songs of Love and Death is an anthology that came out almost a year ago and I finally received a copy of it from Paperbackswap. I’ve been wanting this book just to read one little 40-page novella in it – A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows by Diana Gabaldon because it’s Outlander-related. So I’m sorry, but if you haven’t read the Outlander series this really isn’t going to interest you. For the very few readers I have that like the series as much as I do – enjoy! (But keep in mind, there may be a couple spoilers here cause it’s only 40 pages long…)

So this is the star-crossed love story of Roger Wakefield’s (AKA Roger MacKenzie’s) parents, Jerry and Marjorie MacKenzie. Jerry as we already knew was an air pilot. In this short story, he’s training for a special mission when something goes terribly awry and he ends up near a circle of standing stones. Now he’s stuck in what he thinks must be the past and is trying desperately to find a way home, when he runs into two strangers…

So I’m not going to ruin the ending for you, but this was a really good, sad story about Roger’s parents. You can see certain characteristics in Jerry that we’re familiar with in Roger. We also get a glimpse of Frank Randall (Claire’s first husband) and learn a little about what he did in the war. There is also a BIG GIANT HINT of something that is likely to occur in the 8th book (which I believe will be called Written in My Own Heart’s Blood) and ohmygod I can’t wait until it comes out. Sadly though it’ll be at least another two years.

Reading this and enjoying it so much has made me realize that I really need to find and collect ALL of the anthologies that Diana includes short Outlander-related stories in. And there are a ton, but they’re usually worth reading.

Outlander fans, as long as you’re caught up on the series then I highly recommend find a copy of this anthology and reading the novella.

Other readers – I may browse through the rest of this anthology, and if I read any of the other novellas I’ll post reviews for those too.

Sarah Says: 5 stars! And that’s a lot for such a short story 🙂

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

The old cover, the current cover, the UK cover. All the same AWESOME book.

 I’ve been slowly re-reading the Outlander series this year – this is book #4. So keep in mind, there will be spoilers about the 1st three books here.

So, Jamie & Claire have come to America! The book starts in 1767 in the New World, with them setting off to make a life for themselves with nephew Young Ian and his pet wolfdog Rollo tagging along. (As well as Fergus and family.)They have almost nothing to start off with but as always find ways to survive and eventually they find land to call their own, deep in the woods of North Carolina.

In the present time, which is 1969, Brianna and Roger are continuing their awkward long-distance romance. That is, until Brianna discovers a death notice of Claire and Jamie, and rushes off through the stones and into the past to try to prevent it, with Roger belatedly coming after her to try to protect her. Once reunited in 1760’s America, their relationship seems more solid – until tragedy strikes and changes their lives completely.

So I guess I can’t say much more than that or I’d be getting super-spoilery and you know, if you haven’t read this book yet that would suck for you. LOTS of stuff happening in this one – it doesn’t get boring because there’s always something going on. I love all of the Outlander books almost equally but for different reasons – the first two because I love seeing Jamie & Claire in their first years together, the third book because they’re reunited and off having adventures, and this one because they finally start to get the domestic settled life that they’re been trying for. It’s so exciting to see them coming to America in the pre-Revolutionary War days and carving out a life in the mountains.

I love love love Jamie & Claire. Haven’t I said that a bajillion times on this blog? But it’s true. Jamie has to be the most well-crafted, well-written, well-fleshed out character ever written. And Claire ain’t so bad herself 🙂 And together they are truly amazing, even though they’re approaching 50 in this book.

Brianna and Roger I am slightly less enthusiastic about. I can say that I like Brianna the most in this book – maybe it’s because we hear her thoughts more. But she still still makes some damn stupid decisions in this book that set off bad shit happening later. And I think that Roger is great, and I’m happy for them and generally want good things for them – they’re no epic couple like J&C though.

And Young Ian! I would love it if Diana Gabaldon gave him is own series – he’s one of my absolute favorite characters in the series.

Anyways, enough of my gushing – this book is just as good as the first three. And so far, even though this is my third re-read – all four have still made me cry. We’ll see if book #5, The Fiery Cross, can do the same – last time I read it I remember thinking that it was one of my lesser favorites. We’ll see.

Sarah Says: 5 bright-ass stars

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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For those of you who are new to my blog or haven’t caught on yet – the Outlander series is my favorite series in the whole wide world. Pictured above are just some of the covers for this one book – the copy I actually re-read this time isn’t pictured above. That blue one is the one you’ll find in stores today. And goodluck finding the last one, it’s the UK version, titled “Cross Stitch” when the series first came out.

Anyways…. I re-read and reviewed this book about two years ago. But then I never reviewed any of the sequels, because I was a) lazy about my blog at that time and b) didn’t want to post spoilers. Well, this time around I’m going to re-read AND review all 7 books. I’ll just post a spoiler warning for all the books after this one.

OK, so Outlander is a time-travel, romance-y, historical fiction adventure. And it starts the epic story of Jamie and Claire. I love epic love stories – it’s one reason why I love the books about Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons. But anyways, I’m getting off track here. Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp is an English WW2 nurse on a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank. They’ve been separated for most of their marriage because of the war, and they’re finally getting re-acquainted with one another. While searching out some plant near a circle of standing stones, Claire seems to “fall” through them – and ends up in the middle of a skirmish between the English redcoats and Scottish Highlanders in the year 1743. She’s assaulted by an Redcoat captain, and rescued by a Scotsman. She’s then taken captive by the Scots, and patches up a young injured clansman named Jamie. She’s brought to Castle Leoch and meets the Laird of the clan MacKenzie – who decides that she’s staying there until they figure out exactly who she is. Claire bides her time trying to find a way to escape and get back to the standing stones – and in the mean time, she grows closer to Jamie. Eventually, she’ll have to choose – whether to go back to the future, or to stay in the past with the possible love of her life.

Even though this book is long (850 pages, actually), I enjoy every minute of it. There’s action, intrigue, love, history, men in kilts… it’s just amazing. My boyfriend is actually the one who talked me into reading this book, and it might just be the best thing he’s ever done for me. (He also went out and bought me each book in the series as I devoured them. What a sweet man.) I actually MISS these books when I’m not reading them. And they make me desparately want to go to Scotland. (I looked up plane tickets though – 1300 bucks one way. Bloody hell.)

Anyways, I HIGHLY recommend trying out this series. They’re just such perfect escape reading. I’ll be spreading out my re-reads of this series though, so that I don’t overwhelm myself and so that they don’t all start blurring together in my head, lol. So hopefully by the time I read and review the next one, Dragonfly in Amber, some of you will have taken my advice and read Outlander ASAP :o)

Sarah Says: 5 stars! My most favorite book ever.

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Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

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This book was given to me when I was about 16, by my high school homeroom teacher Ken, who thought I might enjoy it. It sat on my shelf for these past 7 or so years, and I’ve FINALLY picked it up and read it. Man, I feel like a dummy for not reading it sooner.

This is a really interesting and thought-provoking book, with really beautiful language and great imagery.

Each chapter is a dream that Einstein has about time, and the different ways in which it might work. In one dream, time is a never-ending loop, and every action is repeated millions of times. In another, time is stilled at a specific location, and the farther one gets from that point, the faster times moves. In another, time moves backwards – people are old and grow younger. In another, future time is an unthinkable concept and people never think, ponder, plan, or wonder about the future. And so on and so forth.

The greatest (and saddest) thing about this book is that it really reminds you how important time is to each of us, because we literally only have so much. Therefore this book makes me want to go do great luxurious and romantic things, before time runs out.

4 stars