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The Midnight Library

Title: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Genre: post-apocalyptic time travel/science fiction

Everyone has been talking about this book. Seems like I can’t escape the buzz. And, like always, I knew nothing about it when I started reading. I didn’t even know what genre it was. Turns out, it was a book right up my alley. Fantastical, but not really fantasy. Great characters, interesting plot, well-written. Who could ask for more?

From Goodreads: Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

What was really great about this was that Haig kept the plot fresh. It isn’t just about Nora living in various lives, one after another, until they blur together for her and for the reader. She definitely visits a few lives that you spend some time in, but various other events keep the plot from getting stagnant. Nora, even though she was struggling when we meet her, becomes much more dynamic as the book goes on. You feel her pain in the beginning, and you really root for her to “find” the life that’s perfect for her. I read this one in just a couple days. I really couldn’t wait to see which life Nora found for herself.

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Booth

Title: Booth

Author: Jason Pellegrini

Genre: Time travel fiction, science fiction, historical fiction

PopSugar Reading Challenge prompt: a book about a fresh start or do-over

At some the author Jason Pellegrini entered my twitter feed. He’s a Stephen King junkie like I am, so I’m pretty sure I followed him for that reason. When he offered up a pdf of one of his books in exchange for an honest review, I gladly took him up on it. And since I’m King fan, he felt Booth was the one I’d like the most. And this novel is very reminiscent of 11/22/63. In this King novel, a character goes back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK. In this book, not only does a character go back in time to prevent a death, the story is also one of redemption, like A Christmas Carol.

From Goodreads: At dawn, on the day of his execution, Joseph Bateman finds himself reflecting on his life, one filled with poor decisions and evil people. Even his lifelong best friend played a pivotal role in earning Joseph his seat on death row. A phenomenon occurs as the electricity meant to kill Joseph is sent through him, and his essence is ripped from the body he has known his entire life and thrown into a new one. Only the body he now inhabits isn’t new at all; it is the body of a person who lived over a hundred years before Joseph’s birth. Now living in an unfamiliar era of history and trapped inside a foreign body, Joseph learns he has been sent back for a reason: to earn redemption for his damned soul and to find a sense of peace he has never known. All he needs to do to get there is to prevent one of history’s most infamous murders.

The execution doesn’t even happen until over halfway through the book. The first half is just getting to know Joseph and see how he got to this point in his life. I found the first half much more interesting. There’s a good chance that’s because I enjoy realistic fiction over science fiction. That said, the book was great overall. Once the execution happens, the plot quickly moves forward, and Joseph’s fate is, you assume, on the path to redemption. I found Joseph’s story captivating and definitely recommend this book.

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The Shining Girls

Title: The Shining Girls

Author: Lauren Beukes

Genre: murder mystery, thriller, time travel

I am a pretty snarky person. I’d like to think that it’s funny rather than mean. That’s certainly how I intend it to be, at least. And snark is hard in print, however, this book’s main character manages it perfectly, so well done Lauren Beukes! Kirby is funny, smart, and a badass survivor.

From Goodreads: In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. Curtis stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back.

Working with a former homicide reporter who is falling for her, Kirby races against time and reason to unravel an impossible mystery. 

The time-travel aspect is a bit confusing at first, even though the chapters are labeled with a date and the character it focuses on. The events are told out of order, so you see the result of something before you see the actual event happen. But if you keep reading, it all comes together. The book is definitely worth sticking with. I really enjoyed this creative thriller. Through the non-traditional narrative, I was left guessing and thinking about what was going on. I would love to read more from Beukes and definitely recommend this one!

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Kindred

If you aren’t reading Octavia Butler, you are absolutely missing out. I have read two of hers already: Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents and loved the little two book series. I simply could not believe how Butler managed to capture exactly what is happening today in her books published 20 years ago. Kindred is a stand alone book involving time-travel.

Sci-fi isn’t my genre of choice. I’m just too logical of a person to really let myself get into sci-fi, however, this book, time travel aspect aside, was so realistic. Dana a black woman, lives in 1976 with her white husband, Kevin. Somehow one day, Dana is transported back to the time of slavery. She sees a young boy drowning in a pond and manages to resuscitate him using her modern knowledge of CPR. He tells her his name is Rufus and then she is transported back home to Kevin. She was gone only a few seconds in his time, but it was a few hours to her.

The next time she disappears, Rufus is a bit older. Dana comes to realize that Rufus is her ancestor. His father owns a plantation and slaves and one of her long ago relatives was a product of a rape of a slave by Rufus. Every time Dana goes back, it is because Rufus is in trouble and needs her to save him from harm. And she has to do this, even though she hates him, to protect her own future life. Once Kevin was touching her when she was transported back, so he ended up in the past as well. Unfortunately, she returned without and he was stuck there for awhile.

This was a fantastic book. I quickly forgot how much sci-fi was involved because the slavery story line was so incredibly realistic. I highly recommend her books. I’m currently on the last book in the Lilith’s Brood series, so be looking for a review soon!