Book Review: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Tom Hazard looks 41-years-old but he has a rare condition. He ages at a slower rate and is actually four-hundred-and-thirty-nine-years old. Tom is protected by a secret society for people like him and with their help, he must move around every 8 years to not create suspension. The number one rule to this secret club, don’t fall in love which hasn’t been a problem for Tom. This time around he decides he will move back to his old stomping grounds, London, to become a high school history teacher but when he meets a woman at work he starts to remember the fulfillment and hurt that comes with any life. Now, Tom’s current life is haunted by his past experiences and he must decide if he will stay stuck in his former memories or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time alternates between present-day London and Tom’s many past memories but I was never confused. Haig does a good job of keeping the story moving but not disorganized. The synopsis of the book will have you think this is a love story between two people but I think it is about following Tom during a time when he feels his life is spent and is questioning his place not only in the world but in the secret society. There is a love story but it’s not the novel’s main focus like the movie, “The Age of Adeline” or the book, The Time Traveler’s Wife. The romance is slow burning and a reader may be confused when they start reading and find nothing happens with this present day romance until the last half of the book. It takes Tom a long time to accept his feelings. I think the main theme of the book was more about the heaviness of being alive. How a group of people you thought was protecting and helping you may have been hurting you? Also, seeing the good, “to love food and music and champagne and rare sunny afternoons in October. You can love the sight of waterfalls and the smell of old books.”

I really enjoyed this book. I found myself marking many passages that stuck with me. The read can be a little slow at times (what life is always exciting?) but it was quite thrilling by the end.

Some favorite quotes:

“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.”

“And, just as it only takes a moment to die, it only takes a moment to live. You just close your eyes and let every futile fear slip away. And then, in this new state, free from fear, you ask yourself: who am I? If I could live without doubt what would I do? If I could be kind without the fear of being fucked over? If I could love without fear of being hurt? If I could taste the sweetness of today without thinking of how I will miss that taste tomorrow? If I could not fear the passing of time and the people it will steal? Yes. What would I do? Who would I care for? What battle would I fight? Which paths would I step down? What joys would I allow myself? What internal mysteries would I solve? How, in short, would I live?”

Purchase this title through Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, or Ebooks.com.

Book Review: Buffering by Hannah Hart 

I first learned about Hannah Hart on her YouTube show, “My Drunk Kitchen,” and I introduced her videos to many of my friends and family. I was hooked by her creativity, funny cooking puns, and life morals after every episode. On film she is a positive force. I didn’t know that from the comedy came a hard and trying life. She is an inspiring person with a story everyone needs to read.

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded is a collection of journal entries, essays, and memories of Hart’s life experiences which lead her to who she is today.

This book is incredibly moving. She talks about growing up with a mother who struggled with mental illness. She talks about her sisters and her slow understanding they weren’t living like others. Her complicated relationship with her father and step-father. How that realization still affects them today. But she also still tries to help others by showing how she has overcome her battles with self-harm and stress. I felt a close connection to Hart’s struggles with depression. And was making mental notes to try some of the exercises she uses to work through tough times.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Hart did a great job of mixing the sad with the funny. It was nice to learn the beginnings of “My Drunk Kitchen,” the work that went into creating the business and the content she does today. Also, the meaningful friendships she has developed and the honesty of learning to embrace her sexuality, faith, and self worth.

She is an excellent writer. Her voice is strong and comes through as completely authentic through her writing. It reads as if Hart is sitting with you sharing her story. It takes a lot of courage to open up but by doing so she will help many others.

Thank you to Dey Street Books, HarperCollins, and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for this review which had no weight on the outcome of the rating.

Expected publishing date for Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart is October 18, 2016.

Book Review: Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler

Another ARC from my job and it in no way sways my review.

Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler is the fourth book in the X-OPS Series. It is a paranormal suspense romance if the cover didn’t give some of the genre away.  Kidnapped and experimented on, Minka escapes the laboratory cage from scientist’s who torture. On the run she is found by Special Forces soldier, Angelo. Can she trust Angelo, the only thing that can calm the beast inside, when she’s not even sure she can control herself around him. Angelo recognizes a hybrid when he sees Minka and to help get her to safety he calls his former team leader, Landon. But Minka and the beast inside are only calm when Angelo is near so Angelo’s protective instincts kick in and sticks with Minka, falling for the other each moment together.

I haven’t read any other books in this series and wasn’t confused when placed in this world. The world building was strong. The dialogue and characters were developed. The storyline was fun, and interesting with shady government cover ups, evil corporate dicks, as well as friends that help strengthen Minka’s control.

What I like the most about this book was the growth Minka’s character had through the story. She really gained a believable amount of confidence and strength. It had nice action sequences especially at the end. I like the therapy sessions featuring other shifters (I’m sure from other books) and the small glimpses into their lives.

I would recommend this book to people who like this genre. Can’t wait to read more of the people and shifters in this world.  This title will be published March 1st, 2016 by Sourcebooks Casablanca.

bookcover Tyler

 

 

Book Review on A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

I received an ARC from my job. It in no way sways my review. I have read Deanna Raybourn’s Julia Grey series and I loved them so I was excited to hear the author is writing another historical fiction series with another strong female protagonist at the center.

Veronica Speedway has no attachments after burying her aunt. She is finally free to resume her travels abroad with scientific studies involving her passion, butterflies. But when she returns home from the funeral finds an intruder that tries to kidnap her. With help from Baron Maximillian von Stauffenbach they defeat the kidnapper. The Baron reveals he knows about her past and believes she is in danger. Offering a ride to London and the promise to answer her questions she excepts. But when he drops her with an old friend of his, Stoker, for protection she finds herself thrown into an exciting adventure when the Baron is discovered murdered.
This was an amazing novel. The book is fast paced and keeps the adventure moving, fun, and never dull. I really enjoyed Veronica Speedwell. She is nothing like Julia Grey but still very likable. She was smart, stubborn, and funny. She is not the romanic troupe readers of historical fiction have been bombarded with and it’s refreshing. I loved her fight to be the independent woman not excepted during those times. Stroker was a little hard to pin down. He is grouchy and tight lipped about his past. I thought he could be prickly but he definitely grows on the reader. It could be because of the interaction and relationship between Veronica and Stroker. Their dialogues throughout the book are smart conversations and arguments which grows and helps the characters see each other as equals.

I can’t wait to read more mysteries involving these characters and see where their relationship can go. I’m sad to say goodbye to Lady Julia Grey but Veronica Speedway is a worthy successor. I am certainly recommending this book to others.

A Curious Beginning  By Deanna Raybourn

Classic Number Six: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Still trying to read a classic a month and June’s read was Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. Published in 1869, it is astonishing the then future technology that was imagined in this Science-Fiction novel. It tells the story of Professor Aronnax after he, his servant Conseil, and Canadian whaler Ned Land wash up on Captain Nemo’s submarine the Nautilus. They embark on an underwater adventure that takes them around the world.

First off, while reading this, I had to keep reminding myself the technology thought up for this novel was ahead of it’s time. I did skim over some Verne’s extensive scientific descriptions but the action and plot were really riveting. There is a clear picture painted of this underwater world and I loved the descriptions of the life under the sea. The author leads his characters and the reader to the red corals of the Red Sea, lost shipwrecks from historic battles, and the discovery of Atlantis. And the pace of the story improves when the characters use diving suits to go pearl hunting and fight a giant squid. The biggest mystery is not in the depths of the ocean but the people themselves. The reader is the witness to the curious Captain Nemo’s decisions and it is only hinted at why the Captain choices to exile himself from the world. While I’m okay with the mystery of the Nemo’s past and motive, it does make you wonder about a man who will give a whole pouch of pearls to a poor Indian pearl diver but at the end destroy the lives of so many and leave his men up to a possible devastating fate.

I think this is a very worth wild read if you can get pasted the scientific jargon. It will not be a read for everyone but I am happy I read it.

Classic Number Five: The Stranger

I’m falling behind on the classic challenge. I started and finished my May pick, The Stranger by Albert Camus, late. I bought this book at The Last Bookstore while I was on vacation and I’m so glad I did. What a great read although like many classic it is not a fairy tale. There is no happily ever after. Many may find the first person narrative boring since the main character, Meursault, is indifferent to all that is happening around him. The book starts with Meursault at his mother’s funeral. He express no remorse, and returns home. I had trouble with this scene. I felt it exhibit the expectation of certain emotions from others in different situations. But as the story goes on he is unaffected by the neighbor who abuses his dog, or a woman. The day after the funeral he meets, Marie. They go swimming, go to a comedy film, and he lives the appearance of a normal life. He expresses no issue with helping write a letter for his other neighbor, Raymond, to a girl who did him wrong. This indirectly gets him involved with the girl’s Arab brother. After a confrontation where Raymond is cut with a knife they return to the house. Meursault goes back out for a walk and ends up killing the Arab.

Part two of the novel follows Meursault’s thoughts during the trail and sentencing. He is prosecuted more for his moral character than the murder. After the trail Meursault finally has a moment of clarity when a priest comes to help him find solace and save his soul but Meursault sees “the benign indifference of the universe” like himself. Neither he or the world doesn’t pass judgement. Everyone will die and he finds a kind of freedom in this fact.

I can see this being a tough read for some. It is hard to follow Meursault and his lack of emotions. Readers will forever try to figure him out. This read will help you understand existentialism and make you think about life and how you relate to everything around you.

Classic Number Four: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I decided to read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum as my fourth classic after seeing the Supernatural: Slumber Party. While watching the episode and their darker take on this classic I realized I have never read the book. The episode does reference the books as well as the movie. I think it was when the character, Charlie played by Felicia Day, was gushing and defending this childhood classic that I decided I needed to read it.

I was delighted with the differences between the book and movie. The movie will forever be a classic in it’s own right but the book is a bigger adventure with Dorothy meeting and making even more friends. The flying monkeys aren’t as scary but become a companion. All the characters grow and while they are all on the same adventure they grow individually finding they had what they seek all along but needed some encouragement along the way. The difference I loved between the movie and book are the passage of time is in both worlds and that the shoes are silver in the book. Maybe because the movie made red shoes such a set thing in the Oz culture and made it appear in the movie that Dorothy’s adventure was just a dream.

I think what will always make this a classic is the need others will feel to use it in their own work, reinvent, and keep it fresh.  I would recommend this to anyone looking for a book to read to their child or looking to give them something to start their reading love. It wasn’t a difficult read. The writing was straight to the point in any character’s motivation or description. A magical read.