Tag Archive | 4 stars

Red Letter Day by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Some time in the future, time travel has been discovered. However, fears of chaos ensuing from multiple potential timelines mean that the use of time travel is heavily regulated. Each person who reaches a certain age can send their teenage self one letter, to be received on Red Letter Day. However, not all receive letters.

A counsellor at the Barack Obama High School, who herself did not receive a letter as a teenager, is two weeks from turning fifty – and the day when she will finally send herself a letter. It’s Red Letter Day at the Barack Obama High School, and her task is to counsel those students who do not receive letters. There are three of them that day.

A very interesting twist on the time travel concept, and an exploration into the consequences of foreknowledge of the future. Very well written, and very much a current topic. I really enjoyed this story.

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Message in a Bottle by Nalo Hopkinson

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Can you imagine travelling back into the past to search for a specific sea shell that gets lost?

Greg, an artist and the narrator of the story, is a family friend to Babette and Sunil, who are adoptive parents to Kamla. All is fine, except Kamla has a strange condition: her head is too big for her body. In fact, it looks adult. And Greg hates kids.

The story begins with a four-year-old Kamla looking for shells on a beach in Bradley’s Cove. She’s a normal-seeming child apart from her oversized head, even down to the obsession with shells. But when Babette and Sunil move to Vancouver, Kamla is angry with them for taking her away from Bradley’s Cove.

Greg holds an exhibition some years later, which Kamla and Sunil attend. The idea of the exhibition is that people are encouraged to excavate for artefacts buried in sand. Kamla, still obsessed with shells, finds a shell in the sand.

In a hurried night time conversation, Kamla intimates to Greg that she’s actually from his future, sent back in time to locate a shell – the shell, in fact, that she found in his exhibit. And this is where things get interesting. The theory put forward is that all creatures are artists, and the shell she was searching for is a masterpiece for the sea creature that made it, as it was the first time the species had designed the shell in that way. A trendsetter – or perhaps evolutionary leap?

This was an interesting story, not only for the time travel aspect and how many so children were appearing with oversized heads and superior intelligence that a new syndrome is named (get the details of that from the story), but also the introduction of the concept of all creatures being artistic. In many ways, perhaps, a valid observation and one worth taking note of. The story isn’t always the easiest read, but it certainly is intriguing.

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Source: Own Collection
Format: Paperback
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This book is a hilarious juxtaposition to the ordinary children’s book. In normal books, the children have adventures and the grownups don’t believe them. In this book, those roles are reversed with hilarious consequences. And no, I won’t be mentioning Professor Steg, the pirates, the space aliens (not to mention the space police) and a wonderful cast of other characters.

Highly inventive and beautifully chaotic, this tale is a romp. A very quick read for an accomplished reader, it will entertain.

Windwalker: Forbidden Flight by HG Chambers

Source: The author
Format: Ebook
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

So. Kiva has two older brothers, the younger of whom has yet to challenge a sect to join. Kiva, however, has dreams of being a windwalker, something that is forbidden to women. They are not even allowed to go as far as challenging the sect. Kiva isn’t one to take “no” lying down, though. She’s pretty sure she has what it takes. And so, on the day of her big brother’s own challenge, she sets off to complete the windwalker challenge – unannounced.

What she doesn’t bargain on is the sidi (leader) of the sect’s unbending nature, and the necessity that is reality. As she begins her illicit training, she learns of a great threat to the Bowl she lives in.

This is a fun story that is quick and easy to read. It was good to see a different part of the world of the Aeternum Chronicles, and I can only hope that I see more of the windwalkers in the next series novel Chambers writes. I also want to know whether the troubles this Bowl are dealing with have any bearing on the issues the rest of the world is having, as read about in the main series. Having read Anne McCaffrey’s PERN series, I wondered how Chambers would deal with the bonding with the kiraeen in this story, and I felt he handled it very well, really. It was clear what was happening, he set out the rules clearly, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Swing Time by Carrie Vaughn

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

In this story we meet Madeline and Ned. They are at a ball, and dancing. And, as it turns out, both engaged in thievery. Or are they collectors? As we quickly learn, they are both able to travel through doors in time, and keep meeting up – much to Madeline’s annoyance.

What was intriguing about this story was the notion that to travel in time (cause doors to open) requires energy (ok, that’s not entirely exotic a concept), but that, in the cases of Ned and Madeline, they generate the required energy by dancing. Much like charging a battery, I guess.

This was a fun story to read, with a twist I didn’t quite see coming. Very inventive and well-written.