& Review: City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: Broadway Books January 2016

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: Broadway Books January 2016

The Book Itself: I’m liking the covers for this series. There’s a larger symbol having to do with the Divine characters in the novel (in this case Voortya’s sword), and then below that, there is a surprisingly detailed image of the city the book is set in. This one really helped me visualize Voortyashtan and the harbor construction. Plus the whole thing just looks really cool.

My Review: A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.
 
Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.
 
So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.  
 
At least, it makes the perfect cover story.
 
The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world–or destroy it.
 
The trouble is that this old soldier isn’t sure she’s still got what it takes to be the hero

I fell in absolute, unexpected book-love with Bennett’s City of Stairs (although I cringe when I re-read my review – what was I drinking when I wrote that thing? It’s so scatterbrained!) It was recommended by a friend and even though I didn’t love the description, I started in on it. And it’s a book that hooks you, drops you in this world and this mystery, and doesn’t let you out of its grip. I may have shed a tear when I saw that the sequel wasn’t out for another year or so.

But here we are, with City of Blades. And yes, I had to re-read City of Stairs. I remembered the bare bones of the story (Sigrud battles a giant water monster! Some gods come back to life!), but re-reading it just cemented the memory of how much I loved it. And it was nice to slide right into the sequel.

This one follows Mulaghesh – the stern battle general who stood by Shara’s side in the Battle of Bulikov. She (spoiler alert!) lost an arm and is “retired” in the seaside village she always wanted…and she’s pretty miserable. Enter Pitry (anyone else think about Land Before Time? Anyone?), with a note from good old Shara, pulling Mulaghesh back into service. And where does she send the embattled war veteran? The city that used to be focused solely on war and violence, of course (a little cruel, Shara…).

Enter another mysterious disappearance…enter clues that the Divine isn’t dead…enter our best pal Sigrud. And you’ve got another amazing story.

It’s a decidedly darker tone than the first book, which wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows in to begin with. Mulaghesh is a former soldier with physical and emotional wounds that run very deep. The moments where she would come to a realization about her military past, where she would become so broken up about the concept of war and the acts she committed in the name of it, were incredibly emotional. I think they would affect any reader, and I honed in on them because I happen to love someone in the military – those feelings and memories are highly personal and incredibly loaded with emotions of every kind. I think it was handled very well in the book.

I love the way both books have dealt with the central mystery: the beginning of the book puts you knee-deep in the mystery, but the book soon boomerangs you into a storyline so much wildly bigger than that mystery, that you don’t really mind that it took a backseat for a while. This time, it’s a researcher sent into Voortyashtan who has disappeared. And she went absolutely bonkers before she did so. There’s another mystery about a power conductive substance that they are mining for in the city, hints at the Divine (which is a much bigger deal in this one, as Voortya was one chick you didn’t want to mess with as a god), and of course, twists abound.

Sigrud is back, but he also takes that backseat, allowing Mulaghesh to really shine. When I read that this book wouldn’t feature Shara or even Sigrud as heavily as the first book did, I was wary. But I came away loving Mulaghesh on an equal level.

The description alone for the next book, City of Miracles is a doozy (AND SIGRUD IS THE MAIN CHARACTER! HUZZAH!). I will be tapping my toes impatiently for January 5th, 2017 to come along, because I cannot wait to read it!

My Grade: A

& Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: Tor Teen January 2016

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: Tor Teen January 2016

The Book Itself: Dramatic witch is dramatic. I don’t know how practical that outfit would be when on the run, but it gives you a good idea on what the author is thinking for the character at lease.

My Review: On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble–as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her–but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Look! A book from an Uppercase Box (take a look at when I opened this one here)! This has all the trappings of a good fantasy series: strong leads, a complex magic system, a hint of romance, etc. And for the most part, it’s solid. The action keeps you reading at a good pace and the author’s focus on female friendship rather than ooey-gooey romance is nice. I struggled a bit with the world-building and logistics of the magic these girls so potently wield.

So we’ve got a Truthwitch, a Threadwitch, a Windwitch, and a Bloodwitch. The least clear of all of these, even from name alone, is the Threadwitch. One of our main characters, Iseult, sees the threads that bind the people around her – essentially their relationships and apparently, their emotions. She also cannot see her own threads. I have so many questions already. I imagine being in crowds would be extremely uncomfortable: so many threads and emotions, and wouldn’t it be hard to see? Are the threads rather transparent? How powerful does this gift make you, really? So you know a man and woman are romantically involved. So you can tell when a friend is secretly angry with you. People react to Iseult because of her race, but is being a Threadwitch seen as an overly powerful gift? And once we meet Iseult’s family, we find out they can make Threadstones – stones that can relieve pain, link two people together over great distances, etc. Why does seeing the ties that bind also give them an affinity with stones? How do they make Threadstones?

You see, the mind spins with questions. I don’t notice that I’m thinking of these questions until Safi, our Truthwitch, mentions that her power (sorry, witchery), can also detect when she herself is telling a lie. So only Threadwitches are blocked from their own power? Wait, does everyone have a witchery? Does it develop? Is it hereditary? Are those with witchery considered superior than those without? Are they universally feared? Loved?

My questions mount, and I don’t really get any answers. The world-building and society structure are wobbily at best in this story. There’s a war going on that no one seems to want, but is considered an inevitability. There’s an Emperor, but I’m not sure who or what he rules over. And tell me about the witchery! It’s the central theme of the book, so I want more detail. A lot more detail.

But I’ll digress from that. Safi and her love interest dance at a ball and fall in love. It’s literally a Cinderella moment. I would hate this, would roll my eyes at the insta-love that plagues YA fiction, but it’s not all smooth sailing from there. Safi leaves the ball in a chase scene (okay, also very Cinderella). And a few dozen misunderstandings means our star-crossed lovers aren’t just ride off into the sunset types. They’re both stubborn as hell, for one thing. So it’s a little more complex than their first meeting would have you believe. I’m glad for that.

I love the female friendship in this. Safi and Iseult play off of each other and have a great bond, even when they’re physically in different locations in the story. And the Bloodwitch seems very compelling and interesting, even though I don’t quite understand why he’s hunting down these girls. Does their blood just smell really good?

Ultimately, I’m left with a bucket load of questions and a plot that seemed to move in a linear way, but was tough to flesh out. I’m not sure if I’d pick up the sequel. We’ll see when the release date gets closer (here’s looking at you, January 2017…)

P.S. it also bugged me that we had to hear the colors Iseult saw as people’s emotions. There were so many that I couldn’t keep track of consistency (was loneliness always orange? Was anger consistently  burgundy?). It really took me out of the story to read something like “Iseult saw his/her threads flash ochre with compassion, then azure for relief, and finally mauve for resentment.” I am over-embellishing here, but it did feel both over the top and dragging.

My Grade: C-

& Review: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: Del Rey July 2014

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: Del Rey July 2014

The Book Itself: So are these the Bondsmagi? Or are they supposed to be costumed actors? The young Gentleman Bastards perform in a play in their childhood in this book, so it could be that. Either way, very dramatic

My Review: With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.
 
Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.
 
Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha—or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.

It seemed appropriate to review an installment in a series I’m reading amidst my Friday posts about reading series’…luckily I started reading the Gentlemen Bastard series after the first three books were already out. The Thorn of Emberlain will be out in July, so I really don’t have too long to wait before that one – insuring that I won’t forget 90% of the plot relatively soon after reading it, as I usually do.

But another day, another Gentleman Bastard book. This time we FINALLY GET TO MEET SABETHA. Sabetha, for those who haven’t picked up this marvelous fantasy series yet, is Locke Lamora’s legendary former lover. For the first two books, we have seen him dodge all mention of her, flinch at redheads who remind him of her, and be pulled out of a deep stupor simply because Jean mentions her name. She is a Big Deal.

But here’s the thing with Big Deals: with such a big windup, it becomes awfully hard for the Big Deal to live up to expectations. At this point, readers are expecting Sabetha to be the most gorgeous creature on the planet, a match in wit for both Locke and Jean (a Herculean task in itself), and yet she still has to be believable. If Sabetha were too good to be true (a Mary Sue, if you will), readers would have detested her. If she strayed too far on the other side of things – was too flawed, too boring, not witty enough, etc. – readers would have hated her as well. It’s an almost no-win situation.

Overall, I think she holds up. This book is structured as its predecessors were: present day action interspersed with interludes from Locke and Jean’s childhood. And this time it irked me more than it did in the first two books. It delayed our meeting of modern-day Sabetha because the interludes were setting up their childhood relationship, and Chains’ task for his young charges during the summer (and we get to see Galdo and Calo again! Yay!).  I found the interlude storyline to be far less compelling than the present day storyline. I found myself not wanting to hear about how they first connected, but how they connect now.

And I will admit – when I heard that this book would revolve around Locke and Jean and Sabetha having to fix an election, I deflated a little. They’re going to have to make Locke extra witty and the characters really well-rounded to get me to like reading about a fictional political election, I thought. It’s no complex liquor ruse or plan to defraud a legendary gambling tower or pirate ship race, that’s for sure (tricks and schemes Locke and Jean have pulled off in previous installments). But the two sides liven it up: Locke and Sabetha attempt to sabotage each other in increasingly ridiculous ways, all while trying to reconnect on the side (can someone take me on an elaborate dinner hoisted atop a skyscraper? Please?!).

And then there’s the fact that this is all for the Bondsmagi. You know, like that one bad guy from the first book who was pretty terrifying and powerful? Yeah, this is the rest of the family. They’re still all-powerful. They’re still scary as hell. And Locke and Jean become indebted to them. Grrrrreatttt…

And by the end, a big reveal about Locke’s supposed heritage (you know, before he went by Locke Lamora) had me reeling. I mean…that’s not really who he is…right? And way to ruin things when they finally seemed to go well for everyone!

I won’t spoil that bit. This time around I wasn’t as onboard with the childhood interludes. They kind of soured my impression of the present day scenes, which I wanted more of (despite the fact they were really about a political election). Sabetha is a strong character, but I haven’t had as much time to get to know her as I have for Locke and Jean, so I’m still wary. Looking forward to the fourth installment in July!

My Grade: B

& Friday: Ampersand Instagram

Look at those sad, low numbers. Follow me on Instagram!

Look at those sad, low numbers. Follow me on Instagram!

It’s a very self-explanatory title: I’m on Instagram now!

I mean, I was before, but now I have one just for the blog! I post about book things, mostly, of course: sneak peeks for upcoming posts, book hauls, amusing photos of my cats and my bookcases, etc. etc. etc.

I read somewhere recently that they’re saying Instagram will be the new Facebook. The two sites are quite different, can one really replace the other? I like the deeper interaction Facebook has. I feel like it’s easier to start and maintain a dialogue about articles and catch up with friends. But what do I know?

And I do love Instagram. Filters and hashtags all day long! (Except easy on the hashtags…I like them for organizational purposes, but six lines of hashtags and I start to judge). I find it more fun than Twitter, which I’m still trying to balance, blog-wise.

So go ahead and give the Instagram a follow! It’s on Instagram as ampersandread, of course. And let me know what other book Instagrams, Twitters, or Facebook pages I should be following. Who posts the funniest/most inspiring/coolest things about books (or just in general)?

& Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: Razorbill February 2016

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: Razorbill February 2016

The Book Itself: I’m a little unclear what the background image is supposed to be, but the title is certainly dramatic and cool-looking. I don’t know if this cover would make me leap for this book on the shelf, but the font works well.

My Review: Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

I shied away from this book at first because it sounded like a lot of books already out there – controlling society, high born vs. low born, society based on Greek/Roman traditions, family member endangered, young woman thrust into a situation she isn’t ready for, but triumphs regardless, etc. It’s the Hunger Games/Divergent/Countless other dystopian and fantasy series come before. I know the plot pattern. I even like the plot pattern. But some books do it better than others, and sometimes you just need to read something different.

And then the praise for this book started gathering speed. And the fans started to profess their lurve for it all over the place. So I caved and started reading.

And I’m pretty glad I did. It’s not that it’s without pitfalls – there’s a love rhombus/square for crying out loud – but overall the book has solid primary as well as secondary characters and very well-written conflict and action scenes.

Let’s get the romance thing out of the way: Laia and Elias have secondary love interests besides each other. For Laia, it’s a fellow spy named Keenan – a jerk who is “just trying to protect her” (yes, I rolled my eyes too). For Elias, it’s his best friend/battlemate Helene. This relationship is far more compelling. They’re friends, they’re pitted against each other, and their relationship is put to the hardest test of all in some of the final chapters in the book – a battle that truly affected me as a reader.

But not only do we have to set up the relationship between Laia and Elias (which ends up being that boring and ridiculous “insta-love” so overused in YA books), now we have to see the set-up of relationships between Laia and Keenan. And Elias and Helene. And even how Laia and Helene and Elias and Kennan interact. Ugh. I think the love rhombus (which is so much more interesting than a love square, don’t you think?) detracts from the main story. Although I’m torn about that, because Helene is pretty kickass and I like the conflict between her and Elias. Maybe I’m just a Keenan-hater. Sorry I’m not sorry.

And now for the world: this is a brutal book. There is no holding back. If you’ve read other reviews of this story, you know it features rape…rather prominently. Laia is constantly described as beautiful/attractive/a special snowflake in terms of looks. As a pretty slave she attracts attention. Of the bad intentions kind. I agree with both sides of the coin here: it is very in-your-face. It’s mentioned quite often for the amount of screen time Laia has. And it doesn’t help make Laia a strong feminist character, always associated with rape, physical beauty, and helplessness. But it makes sense in terms of the society: a caste system where slaves, both male and female, are property, to do with what soldiers will. Rape happened in ancient Rome and Greece. So it’s happening here.

And the brutality doesn’t end there. There is a lot of blood and guts in this story. A lot of betrayal, a lot of evil in the well-constructed villain that is the Commandant (and also Elias’ mother – MAMA ISSUES!) It’s a lot of brutality for YA, but the writing style and character development place this book pretty squarely in that genre.

I thought the action scenes were really well done, but unbalanced in terms of narration. We would go from a tense scene mid-battle for Elias amidst the Trials…and then cut away to Laia, talking to the cook in the kitchen. I would at times find Elias’ story and arc so much more compelling than Laia’s, that I wished the book were more about him. I think he’s a better constructed character overall, and he really got the bulk of the story.

Overall, I liked the story, I liked the characters. I wasn’t sold on the romance, and Laia still kind of annoys me. But I’ll pick up the next installment to see where it goes from here.

My Review: B

& Fridays: Uppercase Box April 2016

Why hello, my lovely pals!

I hope your week is treating you well! Mine certainly was once this month’s Uppercase Box landed on my doorstep. It’s such a nice treat during the week when you come home and a box full of a new book and book-themed surprises is waiting for you.

Uppercase Box April 2016!

Uppercase Box April 2016!

So here it is! This month’s book is Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw. Description is as follows:

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. And if they ever find out what Scarlett truly thinks about them, she’ll be thrust into a situation far more dramatic than anything she’s ever seen on TV…

It’s definitely a very high-school-y sounding book (which is of course the age group for YA…). I do like the sound of the fanfiction/fandom aspect, and it has received excellent reviews. I shall give it a shot (to the never ending To-Be-Read pile it goes!!)

I also received a little invitation to #IReadYA Week, along with a fun pin. Looks like I should pick up a YA book and Tweet, Instagram, and blog about it during the week of May 2nd – 6th!

Harry Potter things. Le swoon...

Harry Potter things. Le swoon…

And then of course, the way to my heart: Harry Potter stuff. The poster by an artist named @risarodil (at least on Instagram) is GORGEOUS. You know me and simple graphics! IN LOVE.

And these bookmarks!! Make me swoon, look how cute little Buckbeak and little Hagrid are! I have gone through @beedooto’s Instagram posts, and I might have to buy the trio set of bookmarks with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. How amazing!

And every girl needs an Advanced Spells book in her back pocket. You know, for quick reference for magic (or story or blog ideas!)

It is a fantastic box this month. I probably would not have picked up this book to look at in a bookstore, so it’s nice to have something come to me so highly recommended. I would not have been exposed to it otherwise. And I love seeing Buckbeak hanging out in my book every day J

& Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: Tor Books January 2016

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: Tor Books January 2016

The Book Itself: I really like this cover. The crazy bird pattern, made to look like its an overwhelming flock, the bold font for the title. YES.

My Review: Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

On the surface, the description of this book matches quite well that genre title “Science Fiction/Fantasy.” One of our main characters is a man of science, and the other is a girl gifted with a little bit of magic. They meet as children and come back together as adults with disastrous consequences. It is an awesome concept: one person steeped in logic, in the mechanics of how things work and the logistics of everything going wrong in the world. The other is focused on the metaphysical, the almost spiritual components of the world – the unexplainable.

It’s just that the execution comes off a little fuzzy and rather clumsily.

First: their childhood. Patricia has a magical encounter with a tree in the forest and many talking birds. Her parents are inexplicably abusive: she acts out at school and they immediately jump to locking her in her room and periodically feeding her under the door – what? Perhaps if they were fleshed out more as characters, I would buy their awfulness. I would at least be able to hate them accurately. But as it stands, I don’t understand them just being terrible, one-dimensional people. Patricia meets Laurence. Patricia freaks Laurence out and then thinks she is, in turn, a freak. Ahh, youth angst.

Laurence is a smartypants, creating a two-second time machine from bits and pieces he finds online. He becomes obsessed with witnessing a rocket launch and sneaks away from house and school to do so, only to meet kindred spirits who may or may not have their own two second time machines. He sees Patricia do magic and his poor little logic brain can’t take it.

Also at some point they help create an Artificial Intelligence together. Because that always works out well.

Now: their adulthood. Patricia has attended a magical school with two brands of magic: healers and tricksters. Annnnd that’s about all we get. The magic school sounded really incredible: an avenue ripe for storytelling. The book could have been all about Patricia Goes to School and that would have been a good story (but perhaps Anders didn’t want to write another magic story about a magic school). She also has a group of magical friends who are also inexplicably horrible to her. She reaches out to those in need around her, righting small wrongs like a modern day superhero (as cliché as that sounds, I liked this bit – I think it also could have been expanded on and explored more). Every time she does this, her fellow magic-doers call her selfish and egotistical. They tear her down and in general are terrible. It makes me not like the magic people.

Laurence is a rich bigwig because of his science know-how. He has a girlfriend whom he doesn’t particularly seem to enjoy, nor does she seem to enjoy him. She is also a flat character to me, delivering rote lines and in general making me say over and over again “wait, why are you here?”

Really, I think, the plot and secondary characters bothered me most. There is too much not explored, not fleshed out here. At one point a serial killer is after the two of them as children. And towards the end, the message feels like an environmental, only-magic-can-save-us-now effort that is still very confusing. Our supporting cast: Patricia’s parents, Patricia’s friends (poor Patricia, jeez…), Laurence’s girlfriend, and basically every authority figure is just kind of…awful. They don’t have redeeming qualities, and I don’t feel sympathy for them or what happens to them, or any good moment they have with our main characters.

I liked scenes in this book. Where Laurence meets other two-second-time-machiners. Where Patricia helps out the less fortunate in her neighborhood. Even the banter Patricia and Laurence develop as adults. But everything hanging around the two of them, and acting on them, wasn’t clear enough for me, or convincing enough for me to love it.

My Grade: C-