Book review: Time and Time Again by Ben Elton

Time and Time Again by Ben EltonTime and Time Again: What it is about

From the publishers: “It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.

Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history.

Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century?

And, if so, could another single bullet save it?”

Time and Time Again: What I thought

I’m a Ben Elton fan and a time travel fan and this book was wonderful. Stanton comes from the future and his task is to prevent World War I. There is only one particular moment in time when he can make the leap to the past, and he almost misses it. But he gets there and gets the job done.

Of course, that is only the beginning of the story!

This story had a few really good twists. Every time when I was sitting back, seeing how this story would evolve, something happened that made me think, yes, of course, that is also possible!

Stanton is a 21st Century man who goes back to the past. Of course, he sees the world around him with our modern eyes. I liked that, as in historical fiction the point of view is (obviously) usually by someone from that era. Because of this, it was easy to feel engaged in the story, but it also created a distance: Stanton was never really ‘in’ this older time. So, it always felt slightly distant. That wasn’t a problem, as it wasn’t really historical fiction. It was about time travel.

The end of the story went rather fast and I wanted to pull the writer back, ‘Hey, slow down a bit!’, but in fact, it was the right thing to do as the ending was not quite the ending. Did I mention twists?


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (very good)

Number of pages: 400

First published: 2014

I got this: for review from Transworld Publishers

Genre: historical fiction, time travel

Other books by this author that I read: Meltdown, Blast from the PastInconceivableDead FamousHigh SocietyPast MortemChart Throb, and Blind Faith.

 

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Book Review: The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

The River of No Return by Bee RidgwayThe River of No Return: What it is about

What the publishers say: ““You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life’s advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

The River of No Return: What I thought

This was a proper time-travel book: time travel wasn’t an excuse to get a modern person into a previous century or vice versa, but it was a concept that was used throughout the book. Not only as in time-travel, but also in stopping time, manipulating time. That was all very interesting.

On the other hand, I also had a strong Georgette Heyer-feel at times: aristocrats in the early 19th century, some romance, it was all there. Nothing wrong with that, but not really what I expected in this novel.

More time than I had hoped, was spent in the 1800s. A greater frequency of to-ing and fro-ing would have satisfied this time-travel nerd reader somewhat more. Thus, a large part of the book was historical fiction in which time travel did not (often) take place, but it was talked about a lot.

There is something fishy about the Guild and Nick wants to find out what it is. He discovers that something terrible is awaiting humankind in the future and together with other time-sensitive people, tries to stop this from happening.

I found the ending a little disappointing, because I didn’t feel the story was sufficiently wrapped up. I was reading this on an ereader and the ending came very unexpected. But in all, this was a very entertaining story with some interesting ideas about time.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Number of pages: 464

First published: 2013

I got this: from the publishers, Penguin, via Netgalley (e-galley)

Genre: science fiction, time travel, historical fiction

Quick Book Review: The Lens and the Looker by Lory S. Kaufman

The Lens and the Looker by Lori S. Kaufman

You know I love dystopian/post-apocalyptic books. Well, this is one that I came across a few years ago. It’s a Kindle download which is not such fun to read if you don’t have a Kindle (I don’t like to read whole books on my PC). But now I’ve got a tablet, and it was fine reading it on there.

This was a free Kindle download from Amazon. From an interview with the author on Curling Up By the Fire: “ It’s the story of three spoiled teens from the 24th century who are kidnapped back to 14th century Verona Italy. There they must adapt to the harsh medieval ways or die. The 24th century where these youths come from is an almost perfected society, where there is no pollution, strife, hunger or degradation of human or natures spirits.”

I enjoyed this book a lot. I found fault with it, too, but I found myself wanting to continue reading all the time, which of course is a good sign.

This book is for a younger age group than I thought, I would say 12+ as it definitely felt like a children’s book to me. That was not a problem, but I didn’t feel as engaged with the story as I otherwise might have. The 24th Century world wasn’t detailed enough for me: certain aspects were worked out nicely, such as everyone having an A.I., a kind of floating robot that they were connected to all the time. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of resources spent on History Camps: camps where history was enacted as realistically as possible, with sometimes hundreds of actors playing roles for a much smaller number of children, who had to “learn from the past”, often sent there for punishment.

At first when arriving in History Camp, the three main characters decide to co-operate so they seem compliant, and they plan to later, when the time is right, sabotage their stay in the camp. It was fun to see how the children slowly start to enjoy living in the past, form attachments, and almost forget about their plans to sabotage the setting.

It was also fun to see how the story developed with baddies threatening their quiet existence, and good people who might be a mixed blessing to have around.

This is the first in a 3-part series. What I especially like about the story is the mix of 24th Century and 14th Century story. The second book appears to be mostly about the children continuing their adventure in the 14th Century. I liked the 14th Century story, but not enough to buy the next book. I would love to know what happens when they go back to the 24th Century, though! I guess that will be described in the 3rd book.

Rating: 4

Number of pages: 336

First published: 2011

I got this book: Free download from amazon.com

Genre: science fiction, children’s fiction, Young Adult fiction

Have you read this book?

Did you enjoy it?

Quick Book Review: Man in the Empty Suit (DNF)

The Man in the Empty Suit by Sean FerrellI love books about time travel, so a book in which a man celebrates his birthday with his younger and older selves, sounded like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I found this book too slow going.

It was quirky and the ideas were very good (he witnesses the murder of a slightly older version of himself and has to find out what happened). However, there was a lot of running around the building with younger versions of himself out to get him. There was a woman, the only non-himself present at the party, but I didn’t understand her role at all.

Also, the story was too fixated on the man and the hotel he was in, and didn’t reveal much about the further world around him (which seems to have collapsed). After 150 pages I was still not very interested in finding out who committed the murder and why, so I gave up reading.

If you’re interested, here’s the description from the publisher:

“Say you’re a time traveler and you’ve already toured the entirety of human history. After a while, the outside world might lose a little of its luster. That’s why this time traveler celebrates his birthday partying with himself. Every year, he travels to an abandoned hotel in New York City in 2071, the hundredth anniversary of his birth, and drinks twelve-year-old Scotch (lots of it) with all the other versions of who he has been and who he will be. Sure, the party is the same year after year, but at least it’s one party where he can really, well, be himself.

The year he turns 39, though, the party takes a stressful turn for the worse. Before he even makes it into the grand ballroom for a drink he encounters the body of his forty-year-old self, dead of a gunshot wound to the head. As the older versions of himself at the party point out, the onus is on him to figure out what went wrong–he has one year to stop himself from being murdered, or they’re all goners. As he follows clues that he may or may not have willingly left for himself, he discovers rampant paranoia and suspicion among his younger selves, and a frightening conspiracy among the Elders. Most complicated of all is a haunting woman possibly named Lily who turns up at the party this year, the first person besides himself he’s ever seen at the party. For the first time, he has something to lose. Here’s hoping he can save some version of his own life.”


Rating: No rating, did not finish the book

Number of pages: 306 (read to page 150)

First published: 2013, February 5th

I got this: from the publishers via Netgalley (ebook)

Genre: science fiction, time travel

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