Tag Archives: time travel

Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

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Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford, paperback novel, 400 pages, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2016.

My daughter insisted that I read this book, and I’m glad that I took her advice. Time Travelling with a Hamster is a wonderful and quirky story about a boy whose father invented a time machine, and then died.

At twelve years old, Al (short for Albert) is sent on a unbelievable and almost impossible adventure back through time in an attempt to prevent his father’s death. The story is funny, heart-felt, and completely original. An excellent read that was interesting from start to finish, with colourful characters and a fantastic plot.

The concept of time travel is fascinating, and also terrifying. Any change made in the past could drastically alter the future, but if one could prevent the death of a loved one, would the consequences be worth it? I really liked the way that time travel was approached in this book, and that the travelling apparatus was made up with an old laptop and a tin tub! The calculations that Al’s dad devised to make time travel possible were complicated, but the theory was well explained and enlightening. I thought the science aspects, including the concept of mind palaces for memory retention, were treated appropriately for the intended age group, and made for very interesting reading.

Grandpa Byron was the best character; with his mix of traditional Indian and western clothing, his moped, intelligence, impeccable memory and odd head bob, I couldn’t help but love this wonderfully eccentric character! Of course, Al is pretty awesome too. He was being bullied at school, and intimidated by his horrible step-sister, yet he was strong, innovative and brave. He had to be courageous and loyal to follow his dead father’s wishes when they seemed so crazy and difficult, but his love and trust for his dad was stronger than any fears he may have had. The close relationship that Byron and Al shared was enviable and emphasised the importance of family bonds.

I now also desperately want a cute little hamster that I can call Alan Shearer the Second!

Time Travelling with a Hamster is most suitable for upper primary to lower high school students. It’s a great book for kids interested in science and humorous adventure. We also have Ross Welford’s next book, What Not to do if you Turn Invisible, which I hope will be every bit as good as Time Travelling with a Hamster.

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The Architect’s Apprentice by Colin Garrow

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architects apprentice coverThe Architect’s Apprentice by Colin Garrow, e-book, 124 pages, published in 2015.

Young Tom has been forced to work for the unscrupulous Mr Savidge in London in 1630. He has been working hard to help support his mother and sister since his father disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Mr Savidge has Tom do many jobs for him, which sometimes includes Tom helping him to steal from houses late at night. On one such trip, Tom discovers a book that has the wrong printing date, it is a date in the future, so it must be a mistake, right? When the owner of the book, the architect Martin Deacon approaches Tom, explaining that the date is in fact correct, Tom’s life suddenly becomes much more complicated.

A complex time slip novel, The Architect’s Apprentice was engaging and intriguing. I tumbled into this fantasy adventure, with its historical London setting, working class English and description that had me wandering the crowded lanes, avoiding excrement and detritus whilst being intoxicated by the cloying odour of the Thames. It was on occassion, a little confusing, with many characters, but I felt satisfied that everything made sense in the end. There were also several surprises that I didn’t see coming!

Time travel stories are always complex due to the nature of moving through time and the possibility of changing the future or the past. This book is no exception. I love that the time breaks are in doorways, and that they exist all over London, yet few people realise it. I also liked that the characters traveled through time, yet never encountered other versions of themselves.

The children, Tom, Sarah and Emily were delightful characters, bright and inquisitive. Though they are of a station that requires them to work at such a young age to survive, they were neither down-trodden nor broken. I enjoyed seeing the way Tom and Sarah bonded with Emily through the story. Emily is rather precocious, yet it fits her superbly. Whilst the children were obviously good, it took a little longer to work out the roles of the adults. I was quite suspicious of Deacon when he first approached Tom, but as I got to know him better, I liked him. For the most part, the adults had a lot to hide, and I was often undecided as to which adult the children should trust, but that mysteriousness only added to the intrigue of the story.

While the book contains some violence, I think it would still be suitable for upper primary school students and high school students. I really enjoyed The Architect’s Apprentice, and I definitely want to read the next book in The Maps of Time series, Mortlake. There was a short preview of Mortlake at the back of the book, which served to strengthen my desire to read it.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Time Sailors of Pizzolungo by Scott Abrams and Adam Blockton

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Time Sailors - imageTime Sailors of Pizzolungo by Scott Abrams and Adam Blockton, e-book, 257 pages, published in 2015.

Guillermo comes home on the last day of the school year to find a strange package. He opens it, and inside is an exquisite model sailing ship. Along with his sister, Piccola, and their friends they take the ship down to the water. It is no ordinary ship, however, and soon the kids are heading out to the open sea atop a massive and splendid sailing ship, and right into a raging storm. Before they know it, they are facing pirates who are determined to wrest control of the glorious Grande Infante, meeting famous mariners such as Christopher Columbus, and diving for treasure off the Canary Islands.

A grand adventure on the high seas and across time! A magic ship, time travel, pirates, treasure, sea battles, a variety of historical figures and a pet pig called Romeo make this a very entertaining read. A wonderful combination of adventure, action, geography and history will engage readers of all ages.

I love the idea of a group of sixth graders taking on pirates and crewing such a massive ship. All of the kids had unique characteristics, and I liked them all. I was amused by Luca’s insistence on avoiding the water, Tony’s attachment to his ipad, Enzo’s overly large chin and Mario’s focus on food, but I was drawn to Guillermo’s determination and Piccola’s intelligence. I’m not sure an eleven year old would know that much Latin though! As the story progressed, I felt like I got to know the small crew of the Grande Infante, and I was able to tag along for the ride.

I’m not very familiar with sailing, and even though nautical and sailing terms are used within the story, that didn’t matter because everything was well described. The detail provided clear images of the ship, crew and surrounds. That also applied to the uncouth pirates, which I could almost smell as they tried to board the Grande Infante! I think washing was very under-rated in those days!

Time Sailors of Pizzolungo is most suitable for middle to upper primary school students, but it is really an adventure open for everyone to enjoy. It was lots of fun, and I do hope that there might be another adventure for the Time Sailors of Pizzolungo soon!

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Dangerous Reflections by Shay West

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Dangerous Reflections CoverDangerous Reflections by Shay West, e-book, 212 pages, first published in 2011, this edition published by Booktrope in 2014.

Alexis and her mum have been forced to move into her aunt’s guesthouse after her father left them penniless. Now Alex has to begin her freshman year of high school at a new school. Being new, her obsession with history and her old clothes already make her a target for bullies, but she also quickly manages to make an enemy of one of the most popular girls, Catelyn. To complicate her life even further, when Alex looks into the mirror, her reflection shifts to that of another. She finds herself traveling through the mirror into the past to prevent an evil time traveler from changing some important events.

This novel combines fantasy elements with the contemporary struggles of a high school student. For a lot of the story we are faced with Alex’s everyday issues, such as making new friends, having a crush, coping with how she feels about her dad leaving, school, all the things that consume the average teenager. Then Alex gets to travel through the mirror, becoming someone from the past and living as them as they avert a disaster that would alter the course of history.

I enjoyed the dips into history, they were well written and exciting. The time travel sections felt realistic and plausible, though perhaps not entirely historically accurate. I don’t know that Hernan Cortes had an older sister for instance. I’m also curious as to what happened to the people whose body Alex borrowed during these times. Since Alex’s body was cold and still during each trip, they probably didn’t take up residence there, so what happened to them? And what happened upon their return, would they remember what had happened in their absence? These trivial curiosities don’t affect the quality of the story, I’m just naturally inquisitive and like to think outside of the story.

Overall I liked Alex and her friends. However, Alex was a rather whiny and ungrateful character at times. Angry at her mum for selling all their stuff, and moving them to Grand Junction away from her friends, Alex shows little to no understanding of how hard it must be for her mother. Alex wants the right clothes, the latest fashion items and technology, and blames her mother for their lack of funds, which is quite unfair. Alex does grow through the story, and begins to understand her mother’s position a little better by the end. The trips through the mirror help her to mature and become more empathetic to those around her, but she is still a rather egotistical teenager, making her a pretty realistic character! I think teens will be able to relate to her, and to her friends.  Why she would moon over that idiot Beau is beyond me though, he was obviously a self-absorbed prat!

An engaging read, Dangerous Reflections is suitable for upper primary school and high school students. This is the first book in The Adventures of Alexis Davenport trilogy, which is followed by Twisted Reflections and Desperate Reflections.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

The Multiverse of Max Tovey by Alastair Swinnerton

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TMoMTThe Multiverse of Max Tovey by Alastair Swinnerton, e-book, 220 pages, published by European Geeks Publishing in 2015.

Fourteen year old Max Tovey has some issues. He has been experiencing a terrifying recurrent dream, hallucinations of the distant past, and now his parents are taking him to Ham Hill to run his dying grandfather’s inn. Life is about to get even more complicated for Max though, as he learns that he is a Time Traveller, and that the dream isn’t a dream at all, but a memory. Now it is up to Max to travel through time, searching for the Montacute Cross that will seal the demonic world, and right the past and future of his own time path.

The Multiverse of Max Tovey is the first book in the Hamdun Chronicles, a new series for young adults. Max Tovey is just fourteen, but the fate of the world rests upon his shoulders, placed there by his grandfather and by the Ancient Monarchs of the Nine Hills. He must face his insecurities and anxieties to succeed, keeping his wits and battling demons, soldiers and villains.

Adventure, fantasy, mythology, and history combine in this exciting and gripping novel. It is very well written, rich in descriptive and emotive language, engaging the reader and pulling them through time with Max. While the story is incredibly complex, as Max jumps about through time and various time paths, it was never confusing. It reminded me a bit of Dr. Who, just with less aliens and more demons. You can learn some British history and mythology too. Max takes us back to first century Britain, to battles with Romans, Celts, Saxons and even Vikings. He experiences life in an alternate reality, when the past has changed to create a new possible future. He even ventures into the Otherworld, an old Celtic myth, where he meets a range of creatures, including faeries and giants, and humans living their second life. I am glad that I wasn’t reading this book aloud, as my pronunciation of Welsh and Old Celtic names and words is rather woeful, but it did add authenticity to the story.

Due to the time travelling, we actually get to meet a few different versions of some of the characters, including Max’s parents. We only get the one Max though, who I came to like immensely. He really grows as a character throughout the story, and we get to see his weaknesses and his strengths, as well as his doubts and his resolve. Max is no ordinary teenager, even before he discovers he is a Time Traveller. He is shy and awkward, and so very lonely, but moving to Ham Hill and discovering the family secrets really opens up a new world for him. His friend, Myvi, is a lovely girl too, quite encouraging and compassionate. She complemented Max wonderfully, and it was nice that they were friends without any complications of a romantic relationship. All of the characters were well developed and described, even the evil ones, and there were a couple of quite dislikable characters!

Suitable for upper primary school students and upwards, it is also a fantastic read for adults. I loved this book, and I’m very excited that there is more to come in this series.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.