Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

This was terrific. I was so intrigued by the tie ins to Station Eleven (and apparently if I’d read Glass Hotel I would have noticed some of the same characters.) such as a pandemic. So we’ve got pandemic and time travel in this one. Also a weird anomaly that keeps being observed. Also a story told from different points in time. Complicated and a little confusing in all the best ways.  I loved this and think I’ll enjoy re-reading it at some point.


Bookshop of Dust and Dreams by Mindy Thompson

A magical bookstore that is open to customers from a 100 year time span? Yes please! The store is in 1944 and run by the Fullbright family. Poppy loves the store and its magic and its regular customers. It’s a tough time, though, because of WWII. And blah, blah, blah, Dark magic vs. Light magic and a big battle. 

I wanted to like this more than I actually did. I loved the descriptions of the bookshop and the magic within it-quotations appearing on a blackboard, flowers blooming and vines growing, wallpaper changing-it’s a living breathing thing. And the characters showing up throughout time is also really cool and I think I would have liked to have known a bit more of their own stories. But really the main plot is the dark magic trying to make its way into this world and Poppy desperately trying to keep her family and the shop safe. And that was the least interesting part to me. I think I get a little bored with magic stuff when it’s very descriptive and at the same time not descriptive at all (because it’s not real so you can’t say “oh yes, that is what is happening.”) 

Your Life Has Been Delayed by Michelle I. Mason

Read: 11/20-11/21

This caught my eye at the library the other day because when I read the description I said “This is that tv show-Manifest!” That was the show about a plane that took off and when it landed it was years later. The people in the plane had no idea, but everyone in the outside world thought the plane vanished without a trace and everyone was dead. Fascinating premise! Alas, we only lasted like 2 episodes before giving up. This book, on the other hand, totally hooked me and I couldn’t stop reading it until it was done. I’m so curious about the age of the author and whether she intended the things I found most deeply interesting to be so interesting. 
In the story it is 1995 and Jenny is 17 when she boards her flight from NYC to St. Louis. She has a new boyfriend, a best friend, and just had a great time staying with her grandparents and planning to attend college in the city. She’s ready for her first kiss and her senior year. It’s a short flight but when they land there is a bit of a kerfuffle with the air control tower. They land and are ushered into a room where they are told the astonishing news that it is now 2020. 
The rest of the book is really about Jenny adjusting to 2020, trying to cope with the fact that her best friend is now a mom and basically the age her own mom was when she left. Her own parents are now grandparent age. The choice of years and ages are perfect for this story. Now, I wasn’t 17 in 1995-I was 23-but I’d say for understanding this story I’m part of Jenny’s generation. Much like the saying of the frog in boiling water-when you live through 25 years you adjust to things as they happen and it’s not such a big deal. But when you jump the 25 years and see things that have changed-it’s like jumping into boiling water. It’s hugely different. I really hope lots of teens (including my own) read this book and maybe get some insight into how the world has changed since their parents were teens: school shootings, 9/11, fashion (she is perplexed at people wearing work out clothes in public, at how revealing clothing is), cell phones (the internet existed, but cell phones being used as cameras and having the internet on them is mind blowing to her.) and the two most interesting things: social media and conspriacy theorist rabble rousing idiots having any kind of platform at all.  Jenny voices things that I do think about and wish we could turn the clock back on. I’m sure morons and conspiracy theorists existed in 1995 but without social media they didn’t have a voice. And yes, they have changed the world for the worse. (see in particular: the past six years.)

Now, this is a YA book so there’s a little romance angle and some stuff I was less interested in, but whatever. I really thought this was great and I’m sure coming at this as an adult reader relating to Jenny I found it overall more thoughtful and melancholy and reflective than it actually is or is meant to be, but there you have it.

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

This was totally delightful-like a Hallmark Christmas movie. In fact, I’d bet it’s already being turned into a movie. If you like snowy cabins and Christmas traditions and a little romance this book is for you. Best of all, it has a time loop (Groundhog Day) premise. I found out about this from an IG friend who said she liked it a lot, but wished there were more of the repeated days and I agree with that.

Maelyn’s family has spent every Christmas at an idyllic cabin in Utah with her parents’ college friends. This tight group has grown up together and though they are family Maelyn has long had a crush on one of the sons. Now they are in their 20s. This Christmas ends terribly-she hooks up with the brother of the guy she really likes and she finds out the cabin is being sold. She desperately wishes for things to change and poof! she wakes up at the start of the trip.

Pour yourself some hot chocolate and stir it up with a candy cane and get cozy on the couch with this nice easy holiday read.

And Then She Vanished by Nick Jones

Paul brought this home from work and we both read it right up. When logging it in GR we discovered that there is a different edition and also a sequel. (Good old Goodreads, listing this as Joseph Bridgeman #1) Anyway, it’s time travel but in a very intriguing way. Joseph’s little sister disappeared many years ago and he’s really been haunted by it ever since. He goes to see a hynpotherapist hoping it will help his mental health, but he actually find out he can time travel. It’s kind of a weird time travel (and really only gets weirder) but Joseph sees in it the possibility to go back to the night his sister vanished and either prevent it from happening or see what happened. I enjoyed this premise very much and the ending definitely sets up for an exciting sequel (or series), so I’m looking forward to that.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

I loved this! Imagine if you will that ever since you were 18, every year on your birthday (New Year’s Day, so at the end of midnight, New Year’s Eve) you jump to a random year of your life. So you are living your life, but out of order. One year it’s the year you’re 35, another year you are 70, now you are in the body of yourself as a 23 year old. Confusing! Each section lists the year and then the age of the Oona in that year, as well as the age she is on the inside. (so, for example, in her first leap she is her 19 year old self in the body of an older self.) As with the best time travel stuff there is fabulous wealth so that she doesn’t ever have to worry about that. And she has two people in her life who know her secret and are there to help her each year.
There’s definitely a lot of confusing stuff–best not to think too deeply about the specifics. She always writes a letter for the next Oona, but doesn’t give spoilers, so that Oona will be free to experience life as she wishes.
The reliability of the leap gives a nice structure to the book, as well as a sense of Quantum Leap like excitement.
All in all, you’d hate to live your actual life like this, but it was really fun to read about!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I first read Outlander in 1996 or 97 and have, ever since, considered it one of my all time favorite books. A top 10 of all time. And yet, as I read it this weekend, I realized—I had only read it that one time and not since! Outrageous! For a one time read 25 years ago it had to be awfully special for it to have such a high spot in my all time favorite books.
It’s a big book, no doubt-8 or 900 pages. But like the best big books, you get swept into the world. As with any reread, it’s interesting to see what you remembered and what you didn’t. For example, there was even more explicit sex than I remembered. And truthfully, it seemed kind of ludicrous now. There was also a lot more graphic violence that I remembered. And sadism. And a really bizarre scene (combining all of that) that I can’t believe I forgot. Perhaps I happily forgot it because it was just..too…much. But that aside, I still LOVED the story, the history, the characters, the dialogue, and Jamie and Claire. I mean, Jamie is the pinnacle of a sexy Highlander. (and speaking of Highlanders, 25 years later and my historical knowledge is still hazy about all that. I think anything I know of it I know simply from these books.)

I really feel like the first 3 books are a perfect trilogy, so I’ll definitely keep going with my reread, but am going to pause to read some fun stuff I just got, also today is my first trip to the library since early March. I’m beyond excited to get some new stuff!!

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

The quarantine cleanup/reorganization of my bookshelves means that I unearthed this prepub from a few years ago that I never got around to reading.  Given my reading doldrums I’m pleased to report that my interest was finally captured and sustained by an adult novel.
I love time travel and this was a very interesting story because the author flouts an awful lot of time travel conventions. I went back and forth between thinking “well time travel is not real so of course she is free to play with it and that’s what makes this an interesting story” and “that would never happen because that’s not the way time travel works.”  For example, in this story your future (“Silver”) and younger (“green”) selves can visit you and hang out with you. There might be several of you visiting you on an important occasions, like a birth, death, or wedding.
One of the things I found my fascinating was that in the farthest future (300 years) society and the legal system have returned to Fate being a determiner of guilt and judicial verdicts are made based on Salem Witch Trial era tests. It was a grim picture of society devolving, while being technologically incredibly advanced.
So that’s the time travel/future aspects of it. As for the story, it focuses on the four women who invented it in the 1960s and what happens to them. One rises to become the powerful head of the corporation that controls all time travel and frankly, she is cruel and not nice.  Two more work within the corporation, but one famously had a mental breakdown and was ousted from the group. Although those dynamics drive the story (and add in a granddaughter and another young woman who discovers a dead body), I think I would have preferred them to be successful scientists who remained pals all the rest of their lives.  But then we wouldn’t have this interesting story and the mystery. The mystery is hard to unravel, in part because of some kooky time travel stuff.

Overall, I liked it and thought it was an interesting story with a new look at time travel.

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Wow. I loved this. Extremely reminiscent of both Replay and Time and Time Again (by Ben Elton)  [Maybe that’s not a surprise. I mean, if you’re playing with time travel your options are once limitless, but also realistically either: people from different years falling in love; people returning to the past to observe for history or science; people returning to the past and changing the future whether intentional or not; people somehow stuck in time loops or time travel; and governments or scientists wreaking havoc from time travel.]

In this case you’re not quite sure what’s happening or which things to believe. The point of view shifts between Barry, a detective, and Helena, a brilliant scientist. Barry is divorced and his only child was killed as a teenager. Helena is hoping that her research into memories will somehow help her mother, who has Alzheimer’s. There are reports of people suffering from “False Memory Syndrome”-people seem to remember another life so vividly it often drives them mad. Barry follows some leads and becomes intimately involved in what is really happening.

One of the things I liked about this book is that it’s split into sections and basically every time I was in a new phase of the book I’d think “oh, ok, that’s what this story is about now for the rest of the book.” but really it was an ever changing and long last story.

I found this hard to put down. I liked it so much I’m going to check out his other book.

Recommended to anyone who likes alternate histories or time travel.

Time Museum, vol. 2 by Matthew Loux

I’ve been eagerly waiting for this sequel for about a year now and I have to admit….I didn’t like it nearly as much as the first one and it ended up feeling like a bit of a letdown. It felt as if time had passed since establishing everything in the first book and like we were just expected to know what the deal was now. There was no recapping, which was difficult reading these in real time publication. And somehow the adventures just felt convoluted? scattered? I don’t know, it just didn’t capture me in the same way the first book did.