A Journey Through Time: Review of Timebound by Rysa Walker

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Timebound

The Chronos Files #1

Rysa Walker

2012/2014 (self-published/republished)

3.5stars

Source: Netgalley

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


 

When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the killing and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost, however—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?


 

I have absolutely no idea how to write this review.  First, because it’s hard to review something you do not have a complete grasp on. Second, because I was annoyed for more than half the book.

Here is a screenshot of my Goodreads updates:

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So obviously, there is no real time traveling until 68% into the book. But everything did speed up after that.  It took me 6 hours to read the first half, because honestly, I was bored.  I took me like 3 hours to finish the book after that because I was so invested.

As I am writing this, I’m not sure if I have posted my review of Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger yet.*  But if I haven’t, I guess I’ll just say that  I LOVE time travel books.  75% of the time I have no idea what is going on.  I’m guessing time travel involves some sort of physics-ish type of science understanding and I dropped out of AP Physics on the 1st day of 11th grade and spent the year in the library writing horrible stories and love notes. I don’t do science.  So it takes awhile for my brain to catch up with the idea of timelines and alternate universes and a lot of times I just try to look past any lack of understanding and chalk it up to the fact that it could be in the plainest of English and I will not understand.  Any time travel experts out there willing to help a girl out?

( I do, however, remember reading somewhere that there are 2 schools of thought when it comes to time travel, and if I’m not mistaken–which i probably am–I like the one that says you can’t really fuck with time, because if you go back in time and do something, then it has already happened in the future.)

So suffice to say, I am completely and totally confused as to how the hell time travel works in this book, but I don’t even care. I will probably at sometime go back and reread the book, and hopefully gather a greater understanding.  If not, then maybe it was the author’s fault and not my own.

Back to the book.

No time traveling happens until 68% into the book, and while I was super annoyed while I was reading, I realize now that it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Obviously it might be to other people, but I’m glad I stuck with it.  There is a LOT of information given during the first 68%.  Sometimes it really did verge on info-dumping, but I thought it was pretty interesting either way.

I really liked Kate.  For as little action there is in the first half, it is still an plot driven book.  There isn’t a super large amount of character development, but I still connected with her.  She’s a girl, who has been thrown out of her own timeline, ripped away from everything she has ever known, and she handles it pretty well.  Of course, there is that instant acceptance that irks me, but what are you going to do?  You can’t have a book where the MC refuses to believe the truth for multiple chapters. That would really slow the plot down. But Kate does what she needs to do in order to restore her life, at least as normally as she can, given the constant shifting of the timeline.

There is a love triangle. Kind of.  It was actually probably one of the best love triangles I’ve ever seen because, first, there is solid reasoning behind it, and second, it doesn’t really exist.  That doesn’t really make much sense, but you’ll understand if you read it.

Trey was so sweet and kind.  There was a teensy-tiny bit of a instalove between the two of them, but honestly it just reminded me of falling in love for the first time at 16.  They weren’t obsessed with each other in a gross way, but they wanted to spend all the time together that they could.  I was 16 and in love once, so I understand.  It was a healthy relationship, and ugh.  Trey was pretty damn near close to perfect.

And Kiernan.  I had almost completely written him off but ugh.  There had to be that little twist and now my heart is battling back and forth between the two boys.

Kate makes her choice in this book.  I’m not sure what will happen in future books, but honestly, at this moment, I’d be happy either way.

Also A++ for an accurate description of DC.  And I loved the idea of intertwining the World Fair and HH Holmes into the story.

Even though I am still lost with the science-y aspect and I had to read more than half a book before any real time traveling occurred I’m still going to give this 3.5 stars.  Honestly, I would have given it a full 4, but I’m still a bit bitter.

So if you are going to give this a shot, it’s best you go in knowing that it is pretty information heavy, action light in the beginning, but it really speeds up.  I am really looking forward to starting the second book!

 

* I have already posted my review of Passenger.  I really suck at reviewing time travel books, but I hope you get the idea that I really do love them.

Retelling a Classic: ARC review of Teen Frankenstein

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Teen Frankenstein

High School Horror # 1

Chandler Baker

Publication: 1/12/16

Source: Netgalley e-ARC

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


It was a dark and stormy night when Tor Frankenstein accidentally hit someone with her car. And killed him. But all is not lost–Tor, being the scientific genius she is, brings him back to life…

Thus begins a twisty, turn-y take on a familiar tale, set in the town of Hollow Pines, Texas, where high school is truly horrifying.

 


 

I’ve never read Frankenstein. Actually, it is on my list of books to read for the Classics challenge I am participating in in 2016. But since it is one of the most famous novels ever written, of course I know the gist of the story.  Dr. Victor Frankenstein creates a “monster”, who everyone always labels as Frankenstein. I’m not sure if in the book he brings together a bunch of different body parts from different dead people or just brings back a dead body back to life, but Teen Frankenstein has a bit of both.

Victor is now Victoria, or Tor Frankenstein.  She is extremely smart, something that separates her from the majority of her podunk Texas (? I think) town.  She and her friend Owen have been experimenting on animals, trying to use electricity to bring them back to life, but nothing seems to be working.  Then one rainy night, Victoria hits a boy with her car and he dies.  Instead of doing the normal thing, and you know, calling for help and explaining what happened, she has the brilliant idea that maybe the reason the experiments were failing is because the subjects were too small! She decides that the newly dead boy is the perfect new specimen. And it works.

But he has no memory of his previous life, no ability to feel pain, and what seems to be the mental capacity of a toddler…So they decide to name him Adam and enroll him in high school the very next day.  I’m not even going to go into how crazy I think this whole beginning is. I mean, beyond the fact that she killed someone, covered the crime up and stole a corpse, she then decides it will be a good idea to enroll it in high school??? I get that she needs to see if her experiment can succeed in assimilating into society, but the very next day???  But fine. I’ll look past that. Suspension of belief and all that.

Adam, who again, has the ability to talk, and walk and even play football, is extremely child like, but of course, everyone loves him. He joins the football team, gets a girlfriend and makes friends, all to the delight of Tor, his creator.  And then boys start being murdered all over the town and people are pointing fingers at the new kid and Tor doesn’t know what to think.

I am having such a hard time writing an actual review of this book.  The plot was pretty basic and the murder mystery was pretty bland. It wasn’t a bad book; I did enjoy reading it and I did end up giving it 3 stars.  I’m just having a hard time putting my thoughts into words.  So instead of even trying to write an actual review, I’ll focus on Tor.

Before I get to Tor, however, I have to mention her best friend, Owen.  Owen was the saving grace of this book. He was hilarious and without him there would have been no one around to humanize Tor.  The only reason I even considered liking her was because of her relationship with Owen.

The entire time I was reading this book I kept going back and forth about whether I liked Tor or not. What I liked most about her was her sense of humor.  I love a good, sarcastic dry humor.  But there was always something that kept me from liking her.  You might think it was how judgemental she was and how she thought she was better than everybody, but honestly that didn’t even bother me that much.  I think it was the way that she continuously referred to Adam as hers or as the “experiment”, or how she kept forgetting that she had KILLED someone and that’s why she had this new “experiment” and that he was once an actual human being.  That he might still in fact be an actual, human being, only a bit living challenged.  And that ending.  It wasn’t a cliffhanger exactly, and it was pretty great.  It definitely cemented every feeling I had about Tor.  I can’t tell you though.  Spoilers.

All in all, it was an interesting book and I think it was a pretty good introduction into Frankenstein.  I do plan on continuing with the series, although it’s not a real series, but more of a bunch of companion novels.  I’m guessing they will be other modern day retellings of classic horror stories.

 

ARC Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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Passenger

Passenger #1

Alexandra Bracken

Publication: 1/5/2016

Source: Netgalley e-ARC

4stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


 passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever


*I feel like I should start off my review by saying that I am completely and totally biased when it comes to this book.  I LOVE books with time travel. That totally might influcence by ability to write an objective review*

With that said, I really did enjoy this book.  It actually reminded me a lot of the Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier (which is one of my favorites)  only, expanded.  Etta and Nicholas go all over the world and through all these different time periods, which was really, really cool.

I think the plot started off a bit slow in the present day and even once Etta arrived in the 18th Century.  I feel like there was too much time spent on the ship.  I get that these scenes held character development, but it slowed the book down.  Once Etta and Nicholas escape into the past again, that’s where the story picks up.  And it was awesome.  It was jam packed with action, as well as wonderful worldbuilding and even more character development.

And I loved being transported  to the different years and locations and I think Bracken did a wonderful job of bringing everything to life. Some periods were stronger than others, but I did feel as if I were in the middle of the Bltiz in London, or in the jungle in Cambodia.  She paints vivid scenes, and in a book like this that’s what you really need.

I really enjoyed that the plot and the characters discussed the difficulties (which is putting it very mildly) that both women and people of color faced throughout history.  And not just in the 18th century.  Even when they go to 1940s London they have to assess their situation to see how appropriate their behaviors are for the the time period. I also appreciated that it didn’t shy away from, not only the sexism and racism of the past, but acknowledged that we don’t live in some beautiful Utopia where everyone is finally equal.

Etta is a strong heroine.  She can take care of herself, even in the past in worlds she should be totally lost in. When she is thrown into the past, moments after her mentor is brutally murdered, she doesn’t break down (which is kind of a let down.  I don’t know about you, but if I had just seen the dead body of someone close to me and THEN I was brought back to the 1700s I think I would freak out a little) but I guess it just goes to show Etta is more composed than I am.  She stands up for what she believes in and is quick to point out the injustices of not only the past, but the present.

I couldn’t really get as strong as a read on Nicholas.  There are so many different aspects that influence his personality: he’s a freed slave; it’s a pirate (legally); he’s the bastard son of a rich and powerful white man, and he was separated from his mother at a young age. He is as strong willed and stubborn as Etta and hates being a pawn in the game of his powerful grandfather.

The romance was a bit meh.  It was sort of insta-lovey, but not really at the same time.  And I’m always quicker to ignore insta-love in cases where two characters are thrown together in dangerous situations.  I feel like if they are going through all of this shit together, relying on each other to survive and whatnot, it’s no surprise that they would fall in love.  I guess it was just the beginning of their romance, which is always the most passionate coupled with the fact that they are from such different times and may lose each other forever which stops me from hating on it.

There were some issues that I feel like probably might be bigger deals to other readers (but as I said, I love time travel books so I’m willingly to look past a lot).

I was very confused about the science (magic?) behind their abilities but I usually am when it comes to time travel books.  It didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the reading (maybe because I just accept that I am not smart enough when it comes to physics (??) to understand that type of stuff).  Also, by the end of the book I had a more concrete understanding, but even so it wasn’t all explained.  I basically just told myself that I would have to re-read it which I will, because there is no way I will be able to go into the sequel in a year without rereading it.

It also suffered from some things that do annoy me in books: Etta’s totally and complete acceptance within 5 minutes that she can time travel, which I already mentioned.  I guess once you’ve already done it has to be easier to believe, but still. And the fact that everyone gets angry at her for not knowing the laws of time travelling. LIKE HELLO she just learned about it yesterday.

But even with those issues, I still loved it.  I still can’t wait for the sequel because that ending was just so cruel!

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Illuminae (Illuminae Files _01)

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.


Thoughts:

When I finished this book I knew I would have trouble reviewing it, so here is my best attempt.

 At 599 pages, (really? Couldn’t add one more page?) I thought it would take me awhile to get through this. I mean, I’m somewhat of a fast reader and I can read HP and the Order of the Phoenix in a day, (but that’s HP and I’ve read it so many times I can skim, but still). I thought it would take me at least the weekend.  But, if I hadn’t been forced to emerge from my bedroom and interact with a houseguest I could have finished this in one sitting.  It was just so exciting.  I felt as if I was Kady, alone and ignorant to what had happened, and I NEEDED TO KNOW.  And the format of this book was everything to making this story exciting.

While I enjoyed it a lot, I can understand that the way the story is told probably isn’t for everyone. Instead of a straightforward 1st person or 3rd person POV, we are presented with an array of different types of documents.  Through interviews, chat transcripts, emails, and official memorandums, to name a few, the events of the last year unfold.

I have to admit that there were points where I was confused. In my currently reading update I mentioned that I had seen Titus Andronicus the night before I started reading.  While watching, I found myself totally confused for scenes at a time until I was able to piece together what was happening.  That’s how this book worked for me.  I would read 15 pages, have no idea what had happened, and then get to another document that would help clarify what was going on. Unlike Shakespeare, where it is more the fact that it takes a while to get used to the language, I think this was actually the author’s intention.  The book tells the story of Kady and Ezra as they try to figure out what is going on and at times we are just as lost as they are.

And while I did enjoy the format, one negative was that it took longer for me to connect with the characters. We are kept at a distance between their actual thoughts, and it is only what they put forward in their e-mails and chats that we really get a sense of who they are.  Kady’s journal entries helped add an insight into her mind as well.  Even with the distance, I did find myself caring for the characters and their relationship (even secondary characters).  Their chats were adorable and from the start I was rooting for the two of them to work things out, despite the separation and the terrible situations they found themselves in.

It is hard for me to talk about the plot of this book without giving away important facts. Let’s just say that the first 250 pages or so were relatively normal and just when it was getting a bit tedious, shit got weird.  Real weird.  I don’t even want to explain what was so weird because I didn’t see it coming and I feel like it would ruin a bit of the surprise.

Illuminae didn’t answer all of the questions I had, but it didn’t bother me. This is a rollercoaster of a book and just went when you think you’ve hit the end of all the surprised and revelations, it knocks you back down and leaves you wanting more.