How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

How to Stop Time.jpg

A love story across the ages – and for the ages – about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live.

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

So Tom moves back to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher–the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city’s history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig
Published February 6, 2018 by Viking
Format: Netgalley* e-book; 336 pages
Science Fiction/Historical Fiction
Also By This Author: The Humans, Reasons to Stay Alive
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live forever?

For Tom Hazard, having a life expectancy of 1,000 years is practically living forever, especially when he outlives everyone he knows and cares for by centuries. But not only does he live considerably longer than everyone around him, he ages one year for every fifteen years that pass. He can’t stay in one place for more than a decade without attracting unwanted attention. He can’t be seen out in public with his wife without people mistaking him for her son. His life is a lonely curse.

It is also a fascinating life, and I was even more interested in the flashbacks of Tom’s “youth” than the mid-life crisis he was having at the start of the novel. In his nearly 500 years on the earth, Tom has worked for Shakespeare, shared a drink with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and sailed to previously undiscovered lands.

There is also heartbreak, anguish, and despair in Tom’s life. Actually, most of his life is a melancholy tale. I can be rather melancholy myself, so I really felt for Tom and his struggles. But if you’re looking for a happy time travel read (do those even exist?), don’t expect that in How to Stop Time. Although there is an optimistic theme overall, there is also the plague, witch hunts, and murder. Plus there is a mysterious society of people like Tom, pressuring him to avoid making any attachments that may endanger the secrecy of his condition.

My only issue with this novel was the antagonist’s story line. I felt it was wrapped up at the end a bit too easily and unrealistically, which left me feeling slightly disappointed considering how suspenseful the rest of the novel had been up until that point. But overall, I was captivated by this novel’s premise and the conflict of its main character.

“That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days–some years–some decades–are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.”

You May Also Enjoy:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Timeline by Michael Crichton
Timebound by Rysa Walker

“To talk about memories is to live them a little.”

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own!
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Warleggan (The Poldark Saga #4) by Winston Graham – Audiobook Review

Warleggan

When Ross Poldark plunges into a highly speculative mining venture, he risks not only his family’s financial security but also his already turbulent marriage. When his old flame, Elizabeth, reenters his life, Ross is tested like never before. But soon his wife, Demelza, retaliates, becoming dangerously involved with a handsome Scottish cavalry officer of her own.

With the looming threat of bankruptcy and scandal, the Poldarks now face the possibility of disaster on all fronts. Will they be able to keep it together before everything falls apart?

A tale of romance, revenge, and risk, Warleggan brings you characters and rivalries you won’t soon forget.

Warlegga(The Poldark Saga #4) by Winston Graham
Published 1953
Format: audiobook; 14 hours 19 minutes
Classics/Historical Fiction
Also By This Author: Ross Poldark (The Poldark Saga #1)Demelza (The Poldark Saga #3), Jeremy Poldark (The Poldark Saga #3), Cordelia
Goodreads
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

Honestly, I was dreading reading this volume of the Poldark Saga. If you watch the BBC/Masterpiece show, you’ll understand why. Without giving away too many spoilers, Ross does something unforgivable, and it threatens to destroy his entire family. Fortunately, I watched Season 2 before reading Jeremy Poldark and Waleggan (the two books Season 2 is based on), so I was prepared, and although it was a really difficult section of the book to read, the ending was very sweet and made up for it (mostly).

Surprisingly, I ended up enjoying Warleggan more than its predecessor. It felt like so much more happened in this novel than in Jeremy Poldark, and near the end I was more into the book than I originally anticipated.

Season 2 of Poldark is still rather fresh in my mind since I recently rewatched the last few episodes before Season 3 premiered, so I was doing a lot of comparing and contrasting between the novel and it’s on-screen adaptation. In my opinion, the tv show handles Ross’s infidelity and the other characters’ reactions to it in a much more realistic and forgiving light. In the book, it feels like Ross pretty much has his way and the female characters involved simply submit to his will and desires. I was very disappointed with how almost passive Demelza was in the book. She’s one of the fiercest literary characters I know of, and I felt that her reaction in the tv show was more realistic. I think this may be the part of the series where TV Demelza branches off from Book Demelza. I think this can probably be attributed to the fact that the show’s writer is a woman ;)

Audiobook Review

For the most part, I really enjoyed this narration of Warleggan. The narrator, Oliver Hembrough, has an entertaining voice that is easy to listen to. The only letdown for me was that his voice for most of the ladies, Demelza especially, was pitiful. Demelza is fierce, yet the narrator depicted her in a moping way that I was not a fan of. I can understand Elizabeth sounding that way, but not passionate Demelza.

Final Musings

The ending of Warleggan was very touching, and there are several reconciliations that will pull at your heartstrings. I’m very tempted to pick up the next book before this season is even over, but at the same time I don’t want to spoil anything! I enjoy watching the show and then reading the books afterwards.

Just for fun, and because it doesn’t actually happen in the novel, here’s my favorite scene from Season 2 of Poldark:

 

 

Jeremy Poldark (The Poldark Saga #3) by Winston Graham

Jeremy Poldark

Ross Poldark faces the darkest hour of his life in this third novel of the Poldark series. Reeling from the tragic death of a loved one, Captain Poldark vents his grief by inciting impoverished locals to salvage the contents of a ship run aground in a storm-an act for which British law proscribes death by hanging. As Ross is brought to trial for his involvement, his wife Demelza tries to rally support to save him and their family. But plenty of enemies would be happy to see her husband convicted, not the least of which is George Warleggan, the powerful banker whose personal rivalry with Ross threatens to destroy the Poldarks.

The third book in Winston Graham’s hugely popular Poldark series,
Jeremy Poldark brings to vivid life the clash of rich and poor, loss and love, powerful and powerless in a mesmerizing saga you won’t forget.

Jeremy Poldark (The Poldark Saga #3) by Winston Graham
Published 1950
Format: paperback; 244 pages
Classics/Historical Fiction/Romance
Also By This Author: Ross Poldark (The Poldark Saga #1)Demelza (The Poldark Saga #3)Marnie, Cordelia
Goodreads
My Rating: ♥♥♥

 

Thoughts:

I’ve finally started catching up on the Poldark novels, now that Season 3 has premiered. If, like me, you are a fan of the BBC/Masterpiece show Poldark, Jeremy Poldark covers the events from the first half of Season 2. If you haven’t watched up to that point in the show, or if you haven’t read the first two novels, beware of spoilers :)

Jeremy Poldark gets its name from a character that isn’t even introduced until the end of the novel; for the most part the book follows Ross Poldark’s trial (remember: he was arrested at the end of Demelza) and his ever growing rivalry with George Warleggan. Like the previous Poldark novel (and what I’m gathering is an interwoven theme throughout the entire series), this book has its fair share of heartbreak. Ross and Demelza are very much grieving the death of their daughter Julia, but they also have tender moments between themselves and close friends.

My favorite part about this novel is the blossoming relationship between Dr. Dwight Enys and Caroline Penvenen. Since I’m watching the show first before reading the books each season is based on, I was already a fan of Dwight and Caroline, but this book made me fall in love with both characters and their relationship even more. Book-Caroline is as headstrong as TV-Caroline, but she also has an even deeper streak of sassiness that I wish we saw more of on the show.

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy family sagas, especially ones including plenty of tension and drama.
…you’re a fan of historical fiction.
…you are intrigued by novels that feature opposing socioeconomic classes.
…you’ve already read Ross Poldark and Demelza.

Final Musings:

Here’s a trailer for Season 2 of the show (they make it look like a dramatic soap opera, I know, but it kind of is in some ways). I’ll let you guess what my favorite scene is (even though it doesn’t even happen in the books)…

To Wager Her Heart (Belle Meade Plantation #3) by Tamera Alexander

With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society’s expectations must work together to achieve their dreams—provided that the truth doesn’t tear them apart first. 

Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, invests everything he has into this venture, partly for the sake of the challenge. But mostly to clear his father’s name. One man holds the key to Sy’s success—General William Giles Harding of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sy Rutledge is beer and bullocks. Sy needs someone to help him maneuver his way through Nashville’s society, and when he meets Alexandra Jamison, he quickly decides he’s found his tutor. Only, he soon discovers that the very train accident his father is blamed for causing is what killed Alexandra Jamison’s fiancee—and what has broken her heart. 

Spurning an arranged marriage by her father, Alexandra instead pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen’s university in the United States. But family—and Nashville society—do not approve, and she soon finds herself cast out from both. Through connections with the Harding family, Alexandra and Sy become unlikely allies. And despite her first impressions, Alexandra gradually finds herself coming to respect, and even care for this man. But how can she, when her heart is still spoken for? And when Sy’s roguish qualities and adventuresome spirit smack more of recklessness than responsibility and honor? 

Set against the real history of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation and the original Fisk University Jubilee Singers ensemble, To Wager Her Heart is a stirring love story about seeking justice and restoring honor at a time in history when both were tenuous and hard-won.

To Wager Her Heart (Belle Meade Plantation #3) by Tamera Alexander
Published August 8, 2017 by Zondervan
Christian Fiction / Historical Fiction / Romance
Format: e-book from Netgalley for review; 384 pages
Also By This Author: To Whisper Her NameTo Win Her Favor
GoodreadsAuthor’s Website

My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts:

I’ve been a faithful fan of Tamera Alexander’s Belle Meade Plantation series since I read the first installment in early 2013. The first two novels, To Whisper Her Name and To Win Her Favor, were very enjoyable and captivating reads for me. I remember loving the romances in both of them, and the storylines were suspenseful and conjured up empathy in me for the prejudices and racial tensions of post-Civil War America.

To Wager Her Heart, the third and, I’m assuming, final novel in the Belle Meade Plantation series was a disappointing read for me. My expectations were high after thoroughly enjoying and appreciating the first two novels. In To Wager Her Heart, I felt that the emotion Tamera Alexander’s writing normally invokes was watered down and not as intense as I remember it being in To Whisper Her Name and To Win Her Favor.

The beginning of this novel pulled me in right away. There is a fair amount of tension and uncertainty with regards to our two main characters’ journeys, but by the middle of the novel the story starts to lag. One thing in particular that threw me off about the middle act of the novel is that the conflict our hero, Sy Rutledge, faces is glossed over and practically wrapped up entirely too quickly.

The novel’s ending was somewhat satisfying, with a realistic amount of loose ends remaining, but overall the book lacks a crucial amount of suspense. I didn’t feel particularly connected to Sy or our heroine, Alexandra, and I even felt that their romance, which began as a promising conflict in the story, blossomed unrealistically too quick and therefore didn’t feel as deep or anchored as the romances in the earlier novels.

I must say that a major reason why I admire Tamera Alexander as an author is because of the amount of research she does. Apart from this series, I haven’t read any of her other books, but Belle Meade and many of characters we meet in these books are real. At the end of each book she gives a brief history of the plantation, the family and workers who lived on it, and the surrounding town. As an aspiring historical fiction writer myself, I appreciate how she crafts her own story around real people and real events.

Read This Book If…

…you’ve read and enjoyed To Whisper Her Name of To Win Her Favor (although these books can be read as standalones, some minor characters are present throughout the entire series).
…you are a fan of historical fiction.
…you love Christian fiction novels.
…you are looking for an inspirational romance.

“Some memories, they never leave a person. But that don’t mean you gotta stay stuck back there with ’em.”

Final Musings:

I feel like I’ve been overly critical of this novel, but believe me, if I had really not liked it, I wouldn’t have been able to finish it. To Wager Her Heart managed to keep my attention until the end, while many other books I’ve reviewed have not. I must credit Tamera Alexander’s writing style and the setting of this novel, because, as I’ve already mentioned at least once, I was really intrigued by the true life historical aspects of Belle Meade Plantation and Nashville in the late 1800s. I still look forward to reading more of Tamera Alexander’s novels in the future, and I know that will also include rereads of To Whisper Her Name and To Win Her Favor.

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Résistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner
Published March 14, 2017 by Berkley Books
Format: Netgalley e-book; 368 pages
Historical Fiction
Also By This Author: Secrets of a Charmed LifeA Fall of Marigolds
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

When I first heard about A Bridge Across the Ocean, I was not aware of the paranormal aspects. I thought it was going to be purely historical fiction; however, the fact that Brette is able to see and speak with ghosts did not make this story fantastical. Susan Meissner wrote it in a realistic way that blended well with the other story lines.

I was originally drawn towards this novel because of the cover. This ship on the front looks very similar to the Titanic, and I have been obsessed with the story and legacy of the Titanic since the third grade. This novel has nothing to do with the Titanic, though. It revolves around two women, from Germany and France, surrounding the WWII era. One of the women, Simone, is a subtle part of the Nazi Resistance in France while the other woman, Annaliese, is the unfortunate wife of a Nazi official. They meet aboard the RMS Queen Mary, while traveling to America after the war. Decades later, Brette crosses paths with both women while searching for a ghost on the now memorialized Queen Mary.

Honestly, I was more interested in the flashbacks of Simone and Annaliese’s lives before, during, and even after WWII than I was in Brette’s present day journey of self discovery. Some of the flashback scenes are hard to read, but that’s typical of wartime settings. Brette is a pretty mild character, while Simone and Annaliese have stronger personalities and act, rather than react, like Brette does. I feel that Brette only serves to reconcile Simone and Annaliese’s storylines, which is where the meat of the story takes place.

“Her life had morphed into an existence defined always by losses.”

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy historical fiction, especially WWII historical fiction.
…you like books that have twists and unexpected endings.
…you don’t mind reading books with multiple narrators.
…you can enjoy a book even if you connect more with the supporting characters than you do the main character.

Final Musings

“Love is always what you get to keep when someone you care about dies. You will always have that love.”

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer

no-other-will-do

Men are optional. That’s the credo Emma Chandler’s suffragette aunts preached and why she started a successful women’s colony in Harper’s Station, Texas. But when an unknown assailant tries repeatedly to drive them out, Emma admits they might need a man after all. A man who can fight–and she knows just the one.

Malachi Shaw finally earned the respect he craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma’s plea arrives, he bolts to Harper’s Station to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she’s not a girl any longer. She’s a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn’t deserve.

As the danger intensifies, old feelings grow and deepen, but Emma and Mal will need more than love to survive.

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer
Published June 7, 2016 by Bethany House
Format: Netgalley e-book; 384 pages
Historical Fiction/Christian Fiction
Also By This Author: Short-Straw BrideTo Win Her Heart
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

Once again, Karen Witemeyer has created wholesome and endearing characters that inspire readers. Emma Chandler is an 19th century female banker with a heart for broken women who need a second chance at life. When someone starts threatening the lives of the women in her care, Emma turns to one of her oldest friends, Malachi Shaw, a timid dynamite expert with a protective streak, to help protect her women’s colony.

One of my favorite parts about No Other Will Do is Malachi’s career in 19th century explosives. I know in the grand scheme of the novel, this character description is only slightly relevant to the plot line, but I still thought it was remarkably interesting. I also appreciated how Malachi’s career choice contrasted with his quieter and hesitantly expressive personality.

Emma, on the other hand, is inspiring in her own sense. She’s brave, strong-minded, and incredibly compassionate. When the odds are stacked against her, she still manages to overcome every challenge, even when she’s struggling with her own doubts and failures.

Although I’d categorize No Other Will Do as an inspirational novel, it also features some darker scenes and depictions. Harper’s Station is a refuge for battered and abused women, but Karen Witemeyer is able to blend the harsher depictions of domestic abuse with compassionate characters who impart healing and hope.

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy historical fiction set in the American west.
…you’re looking for an uplifting novel to start the year off with.
…you appreciate themes of feminism and redemption.
…you’re interested in well-researched 19th century life (including insight into the life of a dynamite expert).

Final Musings

I can’t believe that Karen Witemeyer has been one of my favorite authors for four years now and I haven’t written a single review for her on my blog yet! I know I’ve recommended and gushed about her books plenty of times, but I’m happy I finally got around to putting together a formal review. If you think you’d be interested in Karen Witemeyer’s other novels, I’d strongly recommend Short-Straw Bride and To Win Her Heart.

Time’s Divide (The Chronos Files #3) by Rysa Walker

times-divide

The Cyrists are swiftly moving into position to begin the Culling, and Kate’s options are dwindling. With each jump to the past or the future, Kate may trigger a new timeline shift. Worse, the loyalties of those around her—including the allegiances of Kiernan and the Fifth Column, the shadowy group working with Kate—are increasingly unclear.

Kate will risk everything, including her life, to prevent the future her grandfather and the Cyrists have planned. But, when time runs out, it may take an even bigger sacrifice to protect the people she loves.

Time’s Divide (The Chronos Files #3) by Rysa Walker
Published October 20, 2015 by Skyscape
Format: Kindle e-book; 543 pages
Young Adult/Science Fiction/Historical Fiction
Also By This Author: TimeboundTime’s DivideThe Delphi Effect
Goodreads | AmazonAuthor’s Website

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

I’m a little upset with myself for not getting this review posted earlier, BUT can I just say that I finished Time’s Divide weeks ago and I’m still on a tiny bit of a book hangover from it? That’s how phenomenal this series was to me. I even finished this last book while I was at work (it was a slow day so I’m not that much of a slacker) and it took most of my self-control to hold back the tears that wanted to burst out of me.

I had guessed (or nearly guessed) halfway through the book how some of the major plot points were going to play out. Some of my suspicions were based on mild spoilers and others stemmed from some of the fears I had about how the story was going to end, and although I wished some thing had happened differently, I think Rysa Walker crafted a beautifully bittersweet ending and I am satisfied with how Kate’s journey played out.

I don’t know why this series seems to be so underrated. My local library doesn’t have any copies of the books and I couldn’t find physical copies in major bookstores (I haven’t checked local and used bookshops, yet). I wish more readers knew about the Timebound books because I truly think it’s the type of series that can draw anyone in. I got my husband hooked on the series and he even finished the last book before I did (maybe by a couple of hours, but still). And yes, he loves science fiction and time travel, but he’s also a 33 year old man reading a book from the point of view of a 17 year old high school girl. I guess that just shows how well-researched and creatively written Rysa Walker’s series is.

I don’t want to say too much and give away any unintentional spoilers, but I do want to say that seeing little glimpses of history and a possible dystopian future was really interesting. I’ve repeated it multiple times, but I love the idea of time traveling and being able to witness history first hand. At the end of Timebound, Time’s Edge, and Time’s Divide, Rysa Walker shares how factual the historical fiction parts of her books actually are. Kate and Kiernan visit so many different eras in history, and they encounter fictionalized versions of real people, such as Harry Houdini, and I was surprised to find that Walker didn’t really bend history too much; she basically just added her characters into the mix.

(I’m changing my typical “Read This Book if…” section to make it more holiday themed!)

“But there’s plenty of truth in fiction.”

Put This Series On Your Wish List if…

…you appreciate well-researched novels (especially historical fiction).
…you’re a fan of sci-fi and light fantasy, or you’re open to exploring a new genre!
…you prefer reading plot-driven stories with easily likable characters.

Gift This Series to…

…a friend who would enjoy YA if it contained some heavy and serious situations.
…someone who likes fast-paced, high-risk adventure stories.
…anyone who enjoys watching sci-fi/fantasy/drama shows like Timeless and 11.22.63 and movies like X-Men: Days of Future Past.

“And one day, if I see your smile on her face, maybe that’ll keep me from feeling I’ve left a piece of my heart behind.”

Final Musings

These songs were playing in my mind quite frequently while I was reading the series. The John Newman song felt like a perfect end-credits song if Timebound is ever turned into a movie (it would be a fantastic movie).

  • Love Me Again by John Newman (Kate and Trent)
  • Silhouettes by Of Monsters and Men (Kiernan and Other-Kate)
  • Love Like This by Kodaline (Kiernan and Kate)