Tag Archives: Time travel

The Square Root of Summer – YA contemporary about a summer of love, grief and wormholes in the fabric of time.

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The Square Root of Summer – YA contemporary about a summer of love, grief and wormholes in the fabric of time.

I wanted to love The Square Root of Summer.  It had math and science and a type of time travel and a cover to die for.  Unfortunately, it felt like a chore to read.  My opinion is certainly not that of many other reviewers.  While I gave it two stars, it got almost four stars on average on Goodreads.  To each his own.

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Goodreads Summary

This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:
To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.
Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.

My Thoughts

This is a book I definitely recommend you sample before you buy.  The fragmented narrative is hard to follow even before the author introduces the timeline.  There are no real cultural norms to help you gain stability.  The family structure, the mix of languages, and the unfamiliar setting all make it difficult to find a starting point to forge connections with the story or the characters.  Honestly, after tackling the first twenty percent, the only thing I understood was the math and science, and I’m certainly not advanced or even proficient in those areas.  The unrelenting rainy day that is the narrator is not very compelling, either.  I wanted to give up on this book almost immediately, and I suspect that I’m not going to be alone.  I can’t see this being a hit in my high school classroom library, even among my deeper thinkers, because it is just not very fun to read.  I found the ending moderately satisfying, but, I’m not sure it was worth the work it took to get there, and I was a little disgruntled that all the science and math amounted to not much in the face of a somewhat woo-woo (that is my mystical sound effect) explanation in the end.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 9+, but I’m not sure if it would hold an average high school reader’s attention.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Girl From Everywhere

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The Girl From Everywhere

I am generally a sucker for time travel or pirates, so I was pretty sure I had hit the jackpot with this book, which combines both.  But I wasn’t convinced I had a five star read on my hands until the end.  Then my brain exploded. There is a lot of set up to this story that really pays off in the last third of the book. Don’t misunderstand, the first part of the book is still engaging, but it really comes together when all the pieces fall into place in a very satisfying way.

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Goodreads Summary

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.
Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

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My Thoughts

Nix is the narrative voice in this story, and it is easy to feel empathy towards her plight.  She is also smart and resourceful, but she still manages to make the mistakes and have feelings that teen readers will find believable.  The cast of secondary characters is diverse and entertaining, and they have back stories that book lovers and history enthusiasts will adore.  While the romantic relationships fell a little flat for me, I think it reflects both Nix’s own inability to make big decisions until her fate is decided, and her formative experiences with Earth-shattering love.  I wasn’t bothered when they didn’t sweep me away, but some readers will be disappointed.  I think it is more important to consider all the messages about love – the kind you feel for your family, your friends, and even places that you hold sacred.  Those are all thoughtfully touched on in this work.  The biggest draw for me, though, is the concept.  It really grabbed my imagination – time traveling pirates (of a sort) on a quest that takes them to places real and imagined with the help of maps and faith-fueled magic.  While some readers might find the rules a little limiting, I thought the idea was sublime. It takes some time to really establish how the idea works, it is so worth the effort.  It is also worth your time to read the author’s notes at the end, especially if some of the literary and historical references elude you (I’m an English teacher, and I still found it enlightening).  Overall, I think this is a book that will appeal to dreamers and readers with the souls of adventurers, and I have plenty of those in my high school classes.  This is definitely going on our classroom library wishlist.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 8+, but it will hold appeal for adult readers as well.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

If you know me and my books at all, you know I cannot resist a time travel story, and there have been many of them to choose from this year.  While this wasn’t my favorite (that was Into the Dim if you were wondering), it was certainly the one that provoked the most thought.  Complex and thoughtful, I believe this book will have a wide appeal.

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Goodreads Summary

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.

My Thoughts

This book has a slow start despite the action the protagonist finds herself thrown into within the first few chapters.  It gradually picks up steam, and readers who stick with it long enough will find a very compelling adventure full of love, betrayal, and time travel to far flung reaches.  Etta and Nicholas are the major players in this story, and their relationship is complicated by a variety of surprising elements that make for suspense and uncertainty right up until the final moments of the book.  While Etta is the protagonist, I actually think readers will find Nicholas the more complex and intriguing character – his backstory is heartbreaking and well developed.  He adds some needed diversity to the YA literary scene, and his situation will inspire some thoughtful consideration.  He will also allow this book to be one that my high school guys can enjoy as much as my high school girls.

Etta is a less well drawn character.  Her motivation in the book is  a little at odds with the initial image readers are given of her relationship to her mother.  She does, however, find a lot of growth as a result of her experiences and she has a determination and loyalty that will play well with the female YA demographic.  While I didn’t feel an intense connection with her, I think others will.

The plot is one that takes a bit of unravelling.  Readers will have to invest a bit of time to get the payoff, but I think it is worth the effort.  At times the romantic relationship took a frustrating amount of time, and that slowed the action, but it does create a more complex story and I think most YA readers will appreciate the time dedicated to developing this sub-plot.  I do think a bit more time could be spent explaining the time traveling concept, but it is clear enough for readers who can suspend disbelief and just roll with it.  My impression is that this is a purposeful lack of detail, one that will come into play as the series evolves.  I say that because the story does end with a clear arrow pointing towards more books. While it isn’t a terrible cliff-hanger of a “resolution,” it does leave the reader with unresolved conflicts, and that irritates some people beyond reason.  I wasn’t outraged, but I will be anticipating the next book starting today.

Overall, I think fans of all ages and both genders will find something to enjoy in this book.  I’m certainly adding it to my classroom library wish list and recommending it to fans of time travel and action reads.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Love That Split the World is a compelling and thought provoking YA with just enough high school drama to keep you reading.

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The Love That Split the World is a compelling and thought provoking YA with just enough high school drama to keep you reading.

This book is billed as The Time Traveller’s Wife meets Friday Night Lights, and that is true to some degree.  I think it will appeal more to those who enjoy time/space romances than someone looking for a small town tale of football.  I certainly enjoyed it, but I am a time travel nut, so . . .

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Goodreads Summary

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

My Thoughts

I thought this was a very compelling read.  Natalie is a character who has a lot to offer.  She is working desperately to find her true self in the last months before leaving her family and friends for college life. She views herself as an outsider, feelings that are the result of being an adopted kid who has tried assimilating into the crowd only to feel she lost something vital.  While the cause may not be universal, the feelings she is experiencing will be familiar to many readers.  The twist here is a mysterious condition that gives her waking dreams of being visited by “others.”  It is an intriguing hook, and it wanted to fall down the rabbit hole and search for answers with her.  The plot is well developed to maintain suspense and develop relationships  between the characters.  It certainly kept me reading past my bedtime!  The romantic element is mysterious and full of enough drama to please most romance fans, and while there is certainly attraction, readers aren’t forced to endure graphic scenes of sensuality, which means I can add it to my classroom library and share it with my high school readers.  The science is science, and some of it went over my head, but for the most part, it was easy enough to follow for those who aren’t STEM girls.   I liked the idea of parallel dimensions, and the author was careful to make enough distinctions that it was easy to move between them as a reader.  I did struggle with the ending, as I think many readers will, but I enjoyed the journey enough to accept the destination without too much fuss – I just want to discuss it with someone now!   I think this book will appeal to a wide age range, and a diverse set of readers.  It is going on my classroom library wish list and is appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Eidelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Janet B. Taylor’s Into The Dim is an exciting new addition to the YA time travel genre

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Janet B. Taylor’s Into The Dim is an exciting new addition to the YA time travel genre

If you like time travel, this book is going to be right up your alley.  Into The Dim is more serious than Kerstin Geir’s Ruby Red books, and less grim than Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book, but it is full of what makes them so appealing: a real girl must overcome doubts to carry out a mission in a surprisingly dangerous past.   It isn’t Outlander, but I still gave it five stars.

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Goodreads Summary

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.

My Thoughts

The author succeeds in building a world (or two) that is part reality and science and part magic and mysticism.     I found that very appealing, and it takes readers from  a Scottish manor full of time bandits to the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine.  I have never troubled myself with the science of time travel, being more interested in the romance of it, so I easily accepted the rather shrouded explanations.  I loved the plot which had plenty of twists and turns, and the cast of characters really added to the suspense because so many of them were operating with their own agendas (you know, like in real life).  As a narrative voice, Hope is very easy to connect with. Her decisions sound quite reasonable, even when they are dangerous, because it is so easy to see how her isolation leads to her desperation.  I particularly enjoyed the journey she took to overcome her own fears and doubts and to become aware of who she really is as a person.  I’m not going to tell you it is the most introspective work I’ve read for YA readers, but it certainly kept me glued to the page from beginning to end.  I did think it had a slow start, but it didn’t take long before I was ignoring things like food and sleep to spend time with this book.  I think many of my high school readers will find this sweeps them awat as well, and it is definitely going on my classroom library wish list.  Language and situations are appropriate for middle and high school readers, but adult readers of YA will enjoy the adventure as well.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Renee Collins’ Until We Meet Again – time travel YA romance with a Gatsby era flair

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Renee Collins’ Until We Meet Again – time travel YA romance with a Gatsby era flair

The star-crossed and time bending couple in this book can only meet on the private beach of a house they inhabit in their respective times.  This strange anomaly of time will have a lasting impact on two teens from two different eras who are each feeling a little lost about their future plans, and it might even change the course of history, at least on a small but important scale.  This isn’t just a love story or a time travel book, it’s also a mystery full of Gatsby style society and Sopranos style crime. I will say that I hovered between a three and four star rating, and many of the time travel books coming out in the upcoming year blow this one out of the water, but I am a sucker for so many elements at play here.

This book will be released on Tuesday, November 3, 2015.

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Goodreads Summary

They exist in two different centuries, but their love defies time

Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it’s his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making.

As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence’s life—into jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.

My Thoughts

Cass and Lawrence, the protagonists, are pretty likeable characters.  Her modern day snark and his jazz era sensibilities work pretty well together, and they do have a  romantic and sweet courtship amid the sand and surf.  It will likely leave readers longing for an old fashioned guy with a penchant for poetry.  The story is a pretty fast read but it does allow for a believable romantic relationship to develop.  I did think that the pace was often disrupted by one of the subplots.  In an effort to further thwart a seemingly doomed love and to create a parallel situation between Cass and Lawrence, the author chose to gift Cass with an ardent pursuer in her 2015 life.  I felt like that subplot flopped for some reason.  I guess it was just the stalker vibe the guy gave off, but I think the story would have been better off without his awkwardly determined courtship.  It didn’t ruin the book, and I still think lots of my high school students will enjoy this story, but it did hurt the flow.  Fans of time travel and romance will enjoy this book.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Return Once More by Trisha Leigh- YA Scifi that had me at “time travel” and “one true love”

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Return Once More by Trisha Leigh- YA Scifi that had me at “time travel” and “one true love”

My mom often prompted me to watch things that I now see were glaringly not for children.  That is how I came to watch Peggy Sue Got Married and Somewhere in Time somewhere between the ages of ten and twelve.  With my mom.  To her credit, I developed a mature and rather blasé  attitude about sex in film that has stood me well in life, but since we aren’t French or European, or even from a particularly educated background, I feel it made me a rather odd and unsettling child to other parents in our small Southern town.  But I digress.  These films inspired in me a lifelong fascination with time travel.  I don’t care if the science makes sense.  I don’t care if there are bodices ripping (though I’m good with that, too).  I just want to be swept away.  Return Once More definitely gave me that escape, and I’m not going to tell you it is another Outlander, but if you, too, have a secret penchant for time travel, this is one book you should add to your TBR list.  It is a Bloomsbury Spark read, so it is only available as an ebook (boo/hiss), but that also means this little gem rings in at under four dollars, and I would consider it money well spent.

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Goodreads Summary

If you could learn the identity of your one true love—even though you will never meet— would you?

Years have passed since refugees from a ruined earth took to space, eventually settling a new system of planets. Science has not only made the leaps necessary to allow time travel, but the process engineered a strange side effect—predicting your one true love.

If you could save your one true love from an untimely death, would you be able to resist?

Sixteen-year-old Kaia Vespasian is an apprentice to the Historians—a group charged with using time travel to document the triumphs and failures of the past—and she can’t resist a peek at her long-dead soul mate in Ancient Egypt. Before she knows it, she’s broken every rule in the book, and the consequences of getting caught could destroy more than just her new romance.

Or would you have the strength to watch him die?

But when Kaia notices a fellow classmate snooping around in a time where he doesn’t belong, she suspects he has a secret of his own—and the conspiracy she uncovers could threaten the entire universe. If her experience has taught her anything, to changing history means facing the consequences. The Historians trained her to observe and record the past, but Kaia never guessed she might have to protect it— in a race across time to save her only chance at a future.

My Thoughts

I really, really enjoyed this book.  Time travel enthusiasts and fans of true love will want to snap it up.  The concept is pretty awesome, and there is something for a wide range of readers – love and drama, conspiracy and corruption, and history (not the boring stuff either).   Kia is a great guide through this journey.   While her choices are sometimes questionable, few readers will fault the motivations – love, loyalty, and the code of conduct that guides her society.  I think she is representative of many YA readers who will pick this up because she is at that moment when independence asserts itself and it is time to question the things you have been taught.  She definitely brings home the message that decisions should be purposeful.  The romance in this book, while tame enough for younger readers, is engaging even if it does have a whiff of insta-love about it.  I think the idea of a “True” love match somewhere in the sands of time will be appealing and intriguing to many readers.  The plot is well paced to develop the intrigue and the concept that are central to the story.  This was a plausible explanation of time travel and an interesting speculation about the future.  There were a few minor lulls, but they are quickly forgotten in the action.  I did struggle with what the ending really meant, but it was a nice hook to guarantee I’ll be waiting for the next book. I particularly liked the message in this book – every moment in a person’s life is a step towards their final destination and can hold significance.  I think my high school readers will enjoy this book, and it is definitely going on my classroom library wish list, but adult readers of YA shouldn’t dismiss it either – especially those who are time travel fans initiated too early into the genre by being talked into watching films with Christopher Reeves at his loveliest or Nick Cage at his most awkward.  Language and situations are appropriate for middle and high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Correlation by Mia Grace is a clean YA read with elements of time travel and romance

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Correlation by Mia Grace is a clean YA read with elements of time travel and romance

Correlation is clean YA contemporary fiction with a little time travel and a little romance thrown into the mix. While it will probably be a good choice for middle and high school readers who just want a light and easy read, I think the lack of complexity might leave some adult readers a little disappointed.  

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Goodreads Summary

When the past and the present collide…

Hailey Kent knows how she wants to spend the summer before her junior year in high school: hanging out at the pool with Jenna, her BFF; riding her new trail bike on Vermont’s country roads; and flirting with Jenna’s hot older brother, Cody. 

Hailey’s plans are shattered when a post-graduation accident puts her brother into a coma. Feeling guilty for not stopping him from going out that night, she seeks solace in exploring an old house and its overgrown gardens.

A mysterious correlation of events propels her back in time to the Vietnam War era, where she realizes she can use her knowledge of one boy’s fate to save his life.

But first, Hailey needs to convince him of her sanity. 

My Thoughts

 While I found Correlation to be a fast and easy read with enough conflict to keep me engaged, it was light on depth.  Emotions are fairly surface and motivated by clear factors.  Characters are angry, sad, or surprised, but there isn’t a lot of complexity, probably due to the third person point of view.  That is okay.  Sometimes I don’t want to wallow in emotions, and I didn’t really have to in this book.  The method of time travel, too is quite simple and I was able to accept the hows and whys I was given as a reader.  I think I enjoyed the second half of the book more because Hailey, the protagonist wasn’t as snotty teen (understandably so).  However, I had some conflicted feelings for the enormous shift, and I think most readers will find a lingering dismay at some of the consequences of Hailey’s decision.  The romance is light and sweet.  

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.