Infinityglass

Caution: Read both Hourglass and Timepiece before proceeding. This post focuses on Infinityglass, the third and final book in Myra McEntire’s Hourglass series, and I promise there will be spoilers for those who are not caught up…and maybe some for those who are.

So…I finally made the time to finish the fantastic Hourglass trilogy this week, and this final book totally delivered. Infinityglass continues the intriguing story introduced in the first book, but it keeps things fresh with two all new narrators. In this book, readers see events through the eyes of Dune, a vital part of the Hourglass organization with his own tragic past, and Hallie, a sheltered girl with the potential to change everything.

The Hourglass, an organization made up of people with time-related abilities, is working tirelessly to find a way to repair the damage done to the space-time continuum. The ripples in time are getting worse, and they’re starting to take over the present. But there may be something out there that can help–the mysterious Infinityglass. This object could fix everything, but the Hourglass must figure out what it is and find it before their enemies do. There’s just one huge issue…

The Infinityglass is not a what. It’s a who.

More specifically, the Infinityglass is Hallie, a girl living in virtual isolation in New Orleans. Her only escapes come through dance and in the missions she takes on for Chronos, the secretive organization founded by her parents and the more nefarious counterpart of the Hourglass.

Hallie has always possessed the ability to manipulate her cells–transmutation, regeneration, etc.–but lately, things are becoming more intense. Her energy levels are off the charts, she no longer needs to eat or sleep, and she’s being pulled into the increasingly common rips in time. Her only real help in determining what’s going on comes from Dune, an Hourglass member posing as her new bodyguard.

Dune has been studying the Infinityglass for years, but he never imagined that he would find it in a person, especially a girl so magnetic that he can’t stay away from her. Almost from their first meeting, Dune and Hallie connect, and they each reveal things about themselves that they’ve never shared with another person. They work together to combat the danger facing them, and Dune provides Hallie with more love and support than she’s ever encountered in her young life. And Hallie’s going to need that support when she learns the horrifying truth about herself, her abilities, and what may need to happen to fix the very fabric of time…

Dune, Hallie, and the other members of the Hourglass are quickly approaching a showdown with those who started this mess, and none of them are truly prepared for what will be revealed…or who is really pulling the strings. But can these young people, all of whom have very special abilities, work together to defeat the evil among them and repair the damage done to time itself? What will Hallie, the Infinityglass, have to do–or sacrifice–to heal time? Do she and Dune have any hope of a future together when the past and present are trying so hard to tear them apart?

Time will tell…

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I must say that Infinityglass is a very satisfying, if somewhat confusing, end to this wonderful trilogy. I didn’t always fully grasp what was happening with the ripples in time, but that’s okay. Confusion is often a given when you’re dealing with time, and this entire series made me feel like I was watching an episode or two of Doctor Who (arguably the greatest show in all of time and space). Both the Hourglass trilogy and the good Doctor make me think, and that’s never a bad thing.

The relationship between Dune and Hallie was probably the highlight of this book. Dune was a good guy, a self-professed geek who worked to overcome his own issues with his abilities, and he was a perfect match for Hallie, a sheltered girl who took every chance she had to escape her suffocating existence. Eventually, Hallie came to realize that no matter how scandalous she acted or what she said, Dune would always be there for her. That gave her a freedom to be her true self that she never had before. Similarly, Dune was able to let down his guard and reveal his deepest secrets and fears to Hallie. In a complicated quest for truth, Dune and Hallie found each other and a connection that transcended all of the chaos around them.

(For those wondering if Dune and Hallie had “sexy times,” yes, they did. There wasn’t anything explicit or gratuitous in the book, but it was apparent that they had a sexual relationship. The same could be said for the couples in both Hourglass and Timepiece as well. Those who are recommending these books to middle grade readers may want to take that into consideration.)

To wrap things up with the Hourglass series, I just have to say that if you’re looking for a series that combines romance, teen angst, unexpected humor, and all of the “wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey” goodness of Doctor Who, then this is the trilogy for you. I hope you enjoy seeing how Michael and Emerson, Kaleb and Lily, and Dune and Hallie work to build their relationships while dealing with their abilities and what they mean for the circumstances at hand. It’s a pretty wild ride, but it’s one that I think you’ll like. I know I did.

For more information on Infinityglass, the other Hourglass novels, and Myra McEntire, check out the author’s websiteGoodreads, and Twitter. Have fun!

Timepiece

Spoilers ahead! If you haven’t already read Hourglass by Myra McEntire, stop right here. This post is all about the second book in the series, Timepiece, and I will definitely spoil the first book for you if you keep reading. You’ve been warned!

Sometimes, second books in series leave much to be desired. They often seem like filler until we make it to the big finale. I’m happy to say that I didn’t feel that way with Timepiece, the second book in Myra McEntire’s Hourglass series. Yes, a lot happened that carried over from the first book, and that stuff will likely be resolved in book three, but Timepiece, thanks largely to an entirely new narrator, felt like a book with its own important story.

In this second installment, we see the action unfold through the eyes of Kaleb. You may recall that Kaleb is the son of Liam, the leader of the Hourglass, an organization devoted to those with special abilities related to time (and time-travel is just a small part of that). When we left Kaleb in Hourglass, we saw a young man who was dealing with a great deal of turmoil–the return of his father, his mother’s precarious mental state, his growing feelings for his best friend’s girl, and his own devastating personal demons. In Timepiece, Kaleb is facing all of those issues and many more…

Kaleb Ballard may seem sure of himself on the outside–kind of cocky, tattoos and piercings to emphasize his tough-guy image–but he’s really a whirling mess of self-doubt. His ability to feel the emotions of others makes him seek numbness at the bottom of a bottle, but circumstances are unfolding that will require Kaleb to maintain laser-like focus.

Jack Landers, the very man who attempted to destroy Liam, Kaleb’s father, and took his mother’s memories is back once more, and now the stakes are even higher. It’s made perfectly clear that Jack, the fiend who is ripping time apart, must be stopped before he can inflict anymore pain.

Kaleb want to do his part to bring Jack to justice. Kaleb’s dad, though, wants to keep Kaleb out of this fight. Liam confides in Michael and seeks out his assistance, and that grates on Kaleb. Why can’t his dad trust him with everything that’s going on? Is he that much of a disappointment? Surely there’s something Kaleb can do to prove to his father that he can help in finding Jack and fixing whatever damage has been done to the splintering space-time continuum.

Soon enough, Kaleb finds himself embroiled in the quest to find the elusive Jack Landers. He’s not alone, though. He receives support from Michael, Emerson, and, oddly enough, from Emerson’s best friend, Lily (who has her own supernatural abilities). Not too long ago, Kaleb was plagued with feelings for Emerson, but Lily is changing everything. She doesn’t buy into his bad boy image, and that allows Kaleb to actually be real with a girl for the first time. But it’s hard to build a future with a girl when time itself is unraveling around them.

Time is ripping apart all around Kaleb and his friends. If they don’t do something fast–find some way to stop Jack in his mad dash for power–everything they know will be torn to shreds. Can they foil Jack’s plans and restore the memories he’s stolen from so many? Or will their search for truth put them in even more danger? Read Timepiece, the thrilling second book in the Hourglass series, to find out!

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I’m the first to admit that time-travel fiction messes with my head, and Timepiece is no different. It confused the crap out of me, and I have to say that it wasn’t an entirely unpleasant feeling. Anything that makes me think is good in my book. Also, I love the “wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey” quality of this entire series. It’s all very Doctor Who (which makes sense because the author is a fan of the show). I am a die-hard Whovian myself, so anything that reminds me of The Doctor is simply fantastic.

Even though Timepiece had a fair amount of resolution at the end, questions still abound. The final moments of the book indicate that things are going to get much more confusing before any clarity shines through. The search is now on for the mysterious Infinityglass, the one thing that could stop Jack’s machinations and finally repair time once and for all. I’m confident that the search will not be an easy one, and things will get much worse before they get better for Kaleb, Lily, Emerson, and Michael. I can hardly wait to see how everything plays out!

Luckily, I don’t have to wait long to see what happens here since Infinityglass, book three in the series, is already out. I’ve just got a few other books to finish, and then I’ll devote some time to wrapping up this intriguing series.

For more information on Timepiece, the other Hourglass novels, and Myra McEntire, check out the author’s website, Goodreads, and Twitter. Happy reading!

Hourglass

Last year, at YALLFest 2013, I heard a charming, entertaining author speak*, and I’ve been meaning to pick up her books ever since. That author is Myra McEntire, and I finally made time to dive into Hourglass, her first novel, this weekend. It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into the world created by Ms. McEntire, and I can hardly wait to read more. (There are now three books in the Hourglass series, and I plan to devour the others during my upcoming holiday break. Woohoo!)

*I should also note that Ms. McEntire was so entertaining that I recommended her as a guest author at the annual conference of the South Carolina Association of School Librarians. Wonder of wonders, she accepted SCASL’s invitation, so I’ll get to see her once again in March!

Emerson Cole is not exactly a typical seventeen-year-old girl. In fact, almost nothing about Emerson is what one would consider “normal.” When her name pops up, “crazy” is the word most often used to describe this troubled girl.

And why is Emerson so troubled? Nothing big, really. She simply sees ghosts of the past nearly everywhere she goes, she’s traumatized by her parents’ deaths, and she’s recently decided to go off her meds because they make everything feel all fuzzy. Emerson has tried nearly everything to help herself cope with the strangeness that is her life, but she’s never really thought about embracing what makes her different. At least, not until Michael enters her life…

Michael Weaver, a guy not much older than Emerson herself, works for an organization known as the Hourglass, and he’s been hired by Emerson’s older brother to help her through some of her issues. What her dear brother doesn’t know, however, is that the mysterious Michael hasn’t come into the picture to make Emerson “normal;” he’s here to show Emerson the true depth of her power.

Soon after meeting Emerson, Michael explains that her encounters with ghosts are much more than what they seem. They are, in fact, ripples in the fabric of time, and Emerson has the unique ability to actually travel to the past, even change things if she wishes to. Michael wants to help her do just that.

Emerson is soon dealing with some fairly unbelievable information, things that make her question everything she thought she knew about herself and the universe. And as if that’s not enough, she’s also confronting some pretty inconvenient feelings for Michael. There’s this weird electrical charge whenever they touch, and their pull toward each other is undeniable, but Michael rebuffs her at every turn. Why? Is it simply because her brother hired Michael to help Emerson? Or are there other things–other people–getting in the way of a possible relationship between Emerson and Michael?

As Emerson learns more about herself, her abilities, her past, Michael, and the secretive Hourglass organization, she comes face-to-face with some truths that are at once horrific and seemingly impossible. Does she really have the power to change her fate and that of those around her, or have other forces already manipulated Emerson’s life and abilities to achieve their own ends?

Well, as they say, time will tell…

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Hourglass really puts a different spin on the whole time travel concept, and it’s one that I think a lot of readers will enjoy. There’s way too much time travel fiction out there that just glosses over the physics behind the concept. This book doesn’t do that. It actually takes a look at things like the space-time continuum and how changing one thing in the past could have devastating consequences in the present and future. The science nerd within me is rejoicing over this…and trying to decipher what the book’s conclusion could mean for time itself.

Aside from all of the time travel stuff, Hourglass has a flawed, totally relatable protagonist. Emerson is far from perfect. She has huge errors in judgement all the time, but I truly believe that her heart is in the right place. She wants to do the right thing, but it’s not always clear how to do that. And when she finds herself floundering, she does what so many YA characters don’t–she talks to the adults in her life, tells them the truth about her situation, and listens to (even if she doesn’t always follow) their advice. Also, she’s like a mini-ninja, so that makes me like her even more.

So, we’ve got time travel, and we’ve got a likable main character. What am I forgetting? Oh yeah! The totally infuriating (in a good way) love story! The push-pull between Emerson and Michael was both wonderful and exasperating. Every time I thought they were about to confess their feelings for each other, I was thrown for a loop. (So was Emerson, by the way.) I didn’t know which way to turn, or even which way I wanted to turn. And when another swoon-worthy guy entered the picture, I was even more confused. Who should Emerson really be with? Should she be with anyone? It’s all very confusing…for both Emerson and the reader. And the book’s resolution, while it does kind of resolve this one big thing, also makes it clear that Emerson’s immediate future will likely be anything but moonlight and roses.

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If you’re looking for a riveting YA read, I urge you to give Hourglass a try. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

For more information on Hourglass, its sequels, and Myra McEntire, check out the author’s website, Goodreads, and Twitter. Ms. McEntire is also a contributing author in the holiday anthology My True Love Gave to Me, so you may want to give that fabulous book a read as well!

Fortunately, the Milk

I love Neil Gaiman, and reading Fortunately, the Milk has only increased my adoration. This book, which features illustrations by Skottie Young, is a journey through the ridiculous. Fortunately, the Milk is targeted to a children’s audience, but I’d wager that many older readers will be enchanted by it.  I certainly was.

Who knew that being out of milk would lead to such craziness? Well, that’s exactly what happened one morning in a perfectly normal household. The father went out to get the milk, but he had quite the story for his disbelieving children when he returned.

After getting the milk that his kids needed for cereal–and he wanted for his tea–it seems that Dear Old Dad got a bit sidetracked by a few things. Things like spaceships, green globby aliens, pirates, piranhas, a professorial stegosaurus with a time-traveling Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier (hot air balloon), an ancient volcano god, ponies, wumpires, the space-time continuum, the galactic police, and dancing dwarves.

Is the father’s story true? Could he have possibly gone on a time-traveling adventure with the strange Professor Steg? And how did he ever get the much-needed milk home to his children? Read Fortunately, the Milk to find out!

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Anyone who enjoys convoluted stories–maybe fans of Roald Dahl or Doctor Who–will love Fortunately, the Milk. It is full of crazy, fantastical fun, and those who’ve ever been subjected to insane tales told by dads, uncles, granddads, or other relatives will definitely appreciate the story.

I do recommend reading the entire book in one sitting. (It’s a very short, fast read that will likely take most readers less than an hour to finish.) The action moves so quickly that this will not be a problem. In fact, if you put the book down, you’ll probably find yourself having to reread entire passages to put things in context.

Fortunately, the Milk, in my opinion, would be a great read-aloud for students in upper elementary or middle grades.  (Some of the vocabulary may be a little too difficult for younger readers.) Even high school students may appreciate this book as a read-aloud. It’s that funny and awesome.

If you’re looking for a super-quick read that is totally strange, whimsical, and ridiculous, you should definitely give Fortunately, the Milk by the amazing Neil Gaiman a try. You’ll be enraptured by both the text and the wonderful illustrations (which were kind of a cross between the works of Shel Silverstein and Tim Burton.) You won’t be disappointed!

If you’d like to learn just a little more about this book, check out the book trailer below. It features the King of All Things, Neil Gaiman himself!

Sabotaged

Proceed with caution if you haven’t read the first two books in Margaret Peterson Haddix’s The Missing series.  (Of course, given how confused I was through most of the third book, I don’t know that reading the first two books really helped all that much.)  On with the show…

I may have mentioned before that the thought of time travel really messes with my head.  Too many “what if” situations pop up, and I feel like my brain will explode trying to unravel all of the possibilities.  I even had issues with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because Hermione used a time-turner to take more classes.  The potential for catastrophe was huge, and I can’t handle that kind of stress.  Well, as you may imagine, my latest read has my head spinning.  Sabotaged is the third book in Margaret Peterson Haddix’s The Missing series, and it is just as confusing, if not more, than the second book, Sent.  I honestly don’t know if I’ll stick with this series simply because my brain cannot take that kind of pressure.  (That’s probably not true, by the way.  Those that know me realize that I have to finish a series once I’ve started.  I need closure.)

In Sabotaged, Jonah and his sister, Katherine, are once again trying to fix time.  This go-round, they’re attempting to help Andrea, one of the missing children from history, get back to her original time to fix whatever needs fixing.  And who is Andrea, you ask?  She’s really Virginia Dare, presumably the first child born in the Americas to English parents in the “lost colony” at Roanoke Island.

Jonah, Katherine, Andrea/Virginia, and a dog named Dare begin their journey back in time with the help of their guide, JB.  Almost immediately, however, things begin to go wrong.  Their only source of communication with JB disappears, they seem to land in the wrong place and time, and things are just not going the way they’re supposed to.  What has happened?  How can they get back to the 21st century?  What are they supposed to do?

As events unfold, it becomes clearer and clearer that JB may not be the one “guiding” Jonah, Katherine, and Andrea/Virginia.  There is a more sinister plot afoot, a plot that could impact the flow of history.  Who has sabotaged this mission?  Does JB know anything about it?  If not, how can Jonah and the gang possibly get out of this predicament?  Read Sabotaged by Margaret Peterson Haddix to find out.

Like I stated previously, this book was very confusing, but the author’s note at the end did shed a lot of light on the subject matter.  (I probably should have read this first.)  Haddix really did her research on Virginia Dare, the Roanoke colony, and early settlements in North America.  For more information on Sabotaged and the other books in The Missing series, visit http://www.haddixbooks.com/home.html.

Sent

Yet another spoiler alert!  If you haven’t read Found, the first book in Margaret Peterson Haddix’s The Missing series, skip this post.  This is one series where you must read the first book to understand the second (and so forth).  Proceed at your own risk!

Today, I finished reading Sent, the second book in The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  The entire concept of time travel mixed with famous missing children throughout history is an interesting one, and I think Found did an awesome job of leading readers into this series.  (I still don’t think most elementary school students will understand a lot of what’s going on, but what do I know.)

In Sent, Jonah, Katherine, Chip, and Alex are sent back to fifteenth century England.  Why, you ask?  Well, as it turns out, Chip and Alex are really Edward V, future king of England, and his brother, Prince Richard.  The two boys were stolen from this time just before their uncle, Richard III, ascended to the throne.  Why did their uncle become king instead of Edward?  Why does no one know what really happened to Edward/Chip and Richard/Alex?  It’s up to Jonah and crew to find out and make things right before it’s too late.  Can they do it without screwing up history?  I’ll leave that for you to discover.

I don’t really know what more I can say about this book without giving everything away, so I’ll keep this post short.  I will say that I spent a lot of my time reading this book in a state of confusion.  Keeping track of Edward/Chip and Richard/Alex was mind-numbing, and I’m sure I’ll experience the same thing throughout the rest of the series.  I’m a linear thinker, and contemplating time travel really messes with my head.  I guess I’ll just have to get used to it.  I may take a little break, though, before I begin reading book three, Sabotaged.  I need to give my brain a rest.

For more information on The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, visit http://www.haddixbooks.com/home.html.

Saving Juliet

Like many teenage girls, I loved Romeo and Juliet when I was in high school.  It was required reading in my ninth grade English class, but I never complained about this reading assignment.  (The same cannot be said when we were required to read Great Expectations.  Shudder.)  I guess I related to all of that teen angst, but I did wonder why dear old Will Shakespeare had to go and kill off these two youngsters.  Why couldn’t they have a happy ending and still stick it to their families?  Well, that very subject arose in my latest read, Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors.

Mimi Wallingford has been groomed for a career in theater her entire life.  Her family owns a Manhattan theater famous for their productions of Shakespeare’s works.  Mimi is currently playing the role of Juliet in, you guessed it, Romeo and Juliet.  The only problem is that she hates acting.  She has horrible stage fright, and she feels like her mother is forcing her own dreams down Mimi’s throat.  It also doesn’t help that she’s got a huge crush on Troy (who is playing Romeo), a pop star who seems to enjoy tormenting her.  Mimi wishes she were anywhere but in her current circumstances.  Well, her wish is about to come true…

Through a bit of magic, Mimi and Troy are transported to Shakespeare’s Verona where they are immediately caught up in the story of Romeo and Juliet.  When Mimi actually meets Juliet, she knows she can change this girl’s story and make it a happy one.  She identifies with Juliet.  Mimi too knows what it’s like to be trapped by the expectations of her parents.

Although Mimi’s intentions are noble, she does get into a bit of trouble.  She is exiled by Lady Capulet (who makes the Wicked Witch of the West seem like Dorothy), she sort of likes Benvolio (who is actually kind of a jerk), and she has to take care of Troy who was stabbed by Tybalt.  On top of all this, she has to figure out how to get back home and change the ending of her own story.  Can she do it?  Will Romeo and Juliet finally have a happy ending?  Will Mimi and Troy ever make it home?  I’ll let you discover the answers for yourselves when you read Suzanne Selfors’ Saving Juliet.