Tag Archive | time travel

Circle of Gold, by Guillaume Prevost (fiction) – kidnapping, time-travel, treachery

book cover of Circle of Gold by Guillaume Prevost published by Arthur A Levine Books

A treatise on magic,
Seven special coins,
Stone statues as time-travel portals,
One villain intent using them to loot the world’s treasures.

For World Wednesday, this concluding adventure in the Book of Time trilogy pits fourteen-year-old Sam against the shadowy Archos man in a final battle for control of the time-travel gateways that only a few can travel.

Sam always seems to be putting the safety of others first, from his cousin Lucy to the lovely Alicia to his grandparents and his father. Now he’s determined to learn enough of  time travel’s secrets to stop his mother’s car before her fatal crash three years ago. Can the avenues of Time stand the strain of this potential paradox?

Whether visiting the vast tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor or walking through an Egyptian pyramid’s secret passageways, author Guillaume Prevost‘s background as a history teacher brings fascinating perspectives to Sam’s many journeys through Time.

Get the whole story at your local library or independent bookstore, starting with The Book of Time (book 1- my recommendation) and The Gate of Days (book 2 – my recommendation), then join Sam on his search for The Circle of Gold.
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Book info: The Circle of Gold  / Guillaume Prevost; translated by William Rodarmor. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009. (Book of Time trilogy #3).    [author interview]    [publisher site]

My Recommendation:

The time-traveling talent shared by Sam and his father may be their undoing, as the Archos man tries to wipe them out and plunder all of Time’s riches for himself. But he underestimates Sam’s desire to make the world’s time-stream right again, even if the teen loses himself in the process!
Alicia, the girl that Sam adores, has been kidnapped from their Quebec hometown by the mysterious Archos man. Of course, the ancient book that the villain demands as her ransom is located far, far away in Renaissance Rome. Rescuing Dad from Vlad the Impaler’s dungeon and surviving the eruption of Vesuvius seemed difficult at the time, but this time, Sam will have to travel back in time alone, as his cousin Lucy is away at summer camp; her great problem-solving skills would help so much!
So Sam must use the ancient stone statue in the basement of his father’s bookstore to open the Gate of Days again, using a certain combination of special coins to land in Rome – just as a battle begins. The book is inside the city walls, and Alicia is being held prisoner by attacking forces who offer Sam a different option for redeeming her life.
Will her captors really try to double-cross the Archos man?
Could Sam’s collection of time-travel coins help him find another way to rescue her?
Does the gold bracelet really allow time-travel without having to use the stone statues?
Will he have to travel to future time to defeat the Archos man’s greed once and for all?

All of the time-journeys and trials which Sam experienced in The Book of Time (book 1) and The Gate of Days (book 2) lead him to this final race for The Circle of Gold. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Dinosaurs & time travel! Chronal Engine, by Greg Leitich Smith (fiction)

book cover of Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith published by Clarion Books
Rare fossilized dinosaur footprints.
Heart attack, kidnapping, possible murder?
What a way to start a summer!
No one has seen the Loblolly dinosaur tracks on their grandpa’s ranch in years. Max can’t wait – he got the family “dinosaur-hunter” genes, Mom says. Kyle and Emma would rather stay home in Austin the summer before their sophomore year , but with Mom leaving to excavate feathered dinosaurs in Mongolia, they’ve all got to stay somewhere. At least Grandpa’s housekeeper has a daughter their age; Petra seems glad to have some other teenagers on the ranch for a while.
Grandpa’s security-locked basement looks like a 1920s library, if the library had a humming time-travel device in the center. Predicting his own heart attack to the minute, leaving messages in places no one can reach – has Grandpa really used the Chronal Engine to travel through time?
Greg Leitich Smith’s fascination with dinosaurs is firmly woven into this exciting action tale, as our adventurers meet teeny Tyrannosaurs (meat-eaters have horrible bad breath), massive Apatosaurus (even dinosaur expert Max still loves the old name of Brontosaurus), and some human villains back in the Cretaceous Era. You’ll enjoy Blake Henry’s manga-influenced black and white illustrations, too.
I didn’t see any boot prints in the fossilized dino tracks when I visited Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, but that’s well north of Chronal Engine‘s setting in the Texas Hill Country, so who knows? Grab this summer thrill-ride read at your local library or independent bookstore soon!
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Book info: Chronal Engine / Greg Leitich Smith; illustrations by Blake Henry. Clarion Books, 2012.  [author’s website] [publisher site
My Recommendation:
All summer out at their grandpa’s ranch? Max, Kyle, and Emma know that rare dinosaur tracks are located there, but they’ll miss their friends and Austin’s city comforts so much. His wild time-travel theories turn out to be truer than they could ever imagine!
Sure Mom is headed for the most important dinosaur dig in Asia, but the teens have met her father just once; the only time in 15 years that he left the ranch was to attend their own dad’s funeral five years ago. For decades, Grandpa has refused to let researchers on his land to study the dinosaur tracks, even though that “hard science” might erase the taint of craziness left by great-great-grandfather Mad Jack Pierson’s insistence that he’d invented a time-traveling engine.
At the ranch house, it’s nice to meet Petra, who is their age and enjoys the outdoors as much as Max does. She knows the way to the dinosaur tracks and what perils to avoid in the Hill Country.
When Grandpa refuses pecan pie during their first dinner together because he knows an ambulance will arrive in 15 minutes because of his upcoming heart attack, they wonder about it. After he gets Max to promise that all four teens will go to the fossil tracks in the morning and gives him a heavy envelope to open later, Grandpa shows them the Chronal Engine and its last recall device to return to the present time – then has a heart attack, just as the medflight helicopter touches down! If he knew the timing of his own heart attack, does that mean Grandpa has used the Chronal Engine?
Visiting the dinosaur tracks the next morning, they find human bootprints in the fossilized mud! And Emma’s boot fits the print exactly… but how? A sudden flash of light and a man appears next to their sister, grabs her, and disappears into another flash of light. So Emma has been kidnapped…to the Cretaceous Era? Suddenly Max, Kyle, and Petra decide to travel back in time using the Chronal Engine to rescue her.
Will it work? Will their compass work? Can they survive among huge herbivorous dinosaurs and speedy meat-eaters? Can they outsmart other time-traveling humans who have guns and are ready to use them? Will any of them get back to the present – alive?
This mile-a-minute adventure story includes dromaeosaur babies and bow-hunting, toothed prehistoric birds and T. Rexes and 40-foot-long crocodilians among the adventures encountered by four young teens on a time-traveling mission. The author notes currently known facts and recent theories about prehistoric life at the end of the book, which includes funny/accurate illustrations by Blake Henry. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Gate of Days (fiction) – time travel, betrayal, mystery

A photo of “Dracula’s dungeon” in an old book,
centuries-old graffiti scratched on the filthy stone walls,
“HELP ME SAM”

It’s a mysterious Monday, as Sam once again hurtles back through time, trying to land in the right place in the right era so he can rescue his dad from Vlad Tepes in the 15th century. No doubt that their enemy, the Archos man, stranded Dad there by taking the coin that would unlock the time-travel statue… no doubt that he would kill Sam and his cousin Lucy if they interfered in his plans to steal masterpieces and riches throughout the centuries at his leisure.

The Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece, gangsters in Chicago during Capone’s heyday, Pompeii as Vesuvius rumbles to life – will Sam ever be able to control where and when the statues take him in time? Find out in book three, The Circle of Gold – after you read book one, The Book of Time (review), to get all the background first, of course.

Look for the whole Book of Time series at your local library or independent bookstore, as all 3 volumes are now available in hardcover and paperback.
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Book info: The Gate of Days / Guillaume Prevost; translated by William Rodarmor. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2008. (Book of Time trilogy #2). [author interview] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Sam knows where his father is imprisoned – Vlad Dracul’s dungeon, in 1462! Now, he must get back through time using the stone statues to save him. But first he has to locate the 7 special coins that will open the complete time loop, without alerting the villain who stranded his father in the past.

Just weeks ago, Sam would have said that his dad was still mourning Mom’s sudden death in a car crash, not chasing a secret through time using the mysterious stone statue in his bookstore’s cellar. And Sam wouldn’t have risked telling his cousin Lucy about time travel’s possibilities if he hadn’t needed her help to keep him anchored to the present while he searched for Dad.

If he can just rescue Dad and get back in time so that his grandparents don’t worry about him being gone…
If he can elude the Archos man who is one step behind him, intent on stopping Sam, permanently if possible…
If he and Lucy can survive the eruption of Vesuvius and Chicago mobsters…
Could Sam possibly open the Gate of Days wide enough to stop Mom’s car from crashing on that terrible day?

The adventures begun in The Book of Time (book 1) reach their startling climax in The Circle of Gold (book 3), with Rodarmor skillfully translating all three thrilling books of the Prevost trilogy. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

World Wednesday (fiction) – Writers from all over

When your mind wanders, where does your imagination take you?

If you really want to go places – without leaving your favorite reading spot – be sure to check out these interesting books written by authors from outside the USA.

Travel back to the time of Scheherazade when Yeats ventures Between Two Ends – magical bookends, that is – to rescue a young girl trapped in her favorite story decades ago, now facing almost-certain death. Canadian author David Ward takes readers far from the Bronze Age Britain setting of his Grassland Trilogy in this exciting tale.

Katherine wants people to see what’s inside her, ignoring her burn scars – can she break free of limitations set by others, like Butterflies burst from their cocoons in the Sydney springtime? A story beyond the usual everyday high school worries, ably written by Australian Susanne Gervay.

French author Guillaume Prevost takes us all over the world, hopscotching across centuries as Sam uses The Book of Time to search for his father and stop a cunning criminal. William Rodarmor translated all 3 books in the series, with its dizzying turns and twists through time.

Amazing determination sets apart young Eon: Dragoneye Reborn from others competing to become Dragoneye apprentice. Courage and loyalty in the face of massive psychic and physical peril keeps Eona and her country alive in this adventure duology by Australian author Alison Goodman.

Berlin during the waning days of the Great War was an increasingly dangerous place, as Socialist demonstrators clashed with police and wounded German soldiers returning from the front lines told truths that the government would not let newspapers publish – German author and international schools teacher Monika Schroeder brings us young Moritz’ perspective in My Brother’s Shadow.

Japanese mythology collides with modern life in London as Miku and her friend Cait race to save the teen’s baby brother from evil Takeshita Demons who have followed her family from Osaka. Australian author Cristy Burne sent me a tweet to say that books 2 & 3 in the series are now available in the US.

Living in London and going to school is much better than staying in their tiny Pakistani village for Halima, but the threat of an arranged marriage and no further education sends her running. The Payback promised by the groom’s family will end her hopes of choosing her own Muslim husband and could end her life! British author Rosemary Hayes says only the names are fictional in this story.

Perhaps Mercy is the ultimate exchange student, flung from heaven to earth, suddenly awakening in someone else’s body (with their mind riding shotgun), on a mission to stop a crime – when she doesn’t know what it is yet! First in series by Australian author Rebecca Lim – Exile (book 2) and Muse (book 3) are already published, with Fury on the 2012 horizon.

Please do look for these fine books at your library or independent bookstore as you support the local institutions that take our imaginations everywhere! And click Non-US Authors in the Labels section on the right for these and other great books by writers who bring us different perspectives and other dreams.

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sitting on my Florida porch, wondering if those sunset clouds will ever bring us rain

The Book of Time (fiction) – time travel, conspiracy, danger

Time traveling… can anyone who finds the stone statue do it?
Will any coin in any sun-ray work?
Which way – and when – has Sam’s father gone?

Happy Leap Day as we leap through time and history with Sam on this World Wednesday.

Worrying about an upcoming judo tournament and the neighborhood bully should be enough for Sam to cope with in his small Canadian hometown. But his father has slipped into deep depression following the car wreck that killed Sam’s mom and has somehow vanished from his locked-tight bookshop!

Sam has no time to warn his cousin Lucy that he’s found a clue to his father’s trail and no way to know that it will send him hurtling through time!

First in a trilogy with many twists and turns, as Sam finds himself in places historic and obscure during his attempts to control his travels through time and find his father.
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Book info: The Book of Time / Guillaume Prevost, translated by William Rodarmor. (Book of Time trilogy #1). Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007 [author interview] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Sam’s dad became more and more distracted after Mom’s death, but now he’s disappeared entirely! Searching for clues in Dad’s antique bookshop in Sainte-Mary, Sam uncovers a secret room in the basement and an ancient stone statue.

Hmm… a stone carved with slots in each sun-ray and a slot-sized old coin nearby. Just put that coin in that slot, and – whoosh – Sam is transported from the basement! But where?

The Canadian teen finds himself at the monastery of Iona in medieval Ireland! The monks are preparing for an attack by marauders intent on stealing their treasures. Somehow Sam can understand their ancient Celtic dialect, but will he be able to save their priceless books and relics?

Fitting another coin into the stone statue where he landed takes Sam to the French battlefields of World War I, then into an Egyptian pyramid during its construction! Meeting Ahmosis, son of Setni, gives him hope of returning home, as the young man tells Sam that his father was also a time-traveler and had discovered some rules about the way that the stone statues and coins work.

But can Setni’s advice help Sam find his father, whenever or wherever he is? What about getting home to his grandparents and cousin? Just how many more stone statues are scattered around the world, anyway?

Sam’s adventures continue in The Gate of Days (book 2) and The Circle of Gold (book 3), with Rodarmor skillfully translating all three thrilling books of the Prevost trilogy. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Always a Witch, by Carolyn MacCullough (book review) – Time travel, magic battle, prophecy

book cover of Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough published by ClarionFace her sister’s wrath or buy the world’s most unflattering bridesmaid dress?
Stay here to be with true love Gabriel or travel back in time to save the world?
Why doesn’t Tam ever have any easy choices?

As the first book in MacCullough’s duet ended, high school senior Tamsin Greene learned that she does indeed have a witch Talent and is one of the few skilled at time Travel. Oh, and that somehow she is now keeper of the Domani, the magical object that keeps the malign Knight family of witches under control.

No wonder Alistair Knight goes back in time to help his ancestors keep the Greene family from creating the Domani… no wonder Tamsin time Travels to stop him.

Twisted witch souls, lust for power, a big magical battle – be sure to read Once a Witch (book 1 – my review) before you race through the conclusion of this exciting duet.
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Book info: Always a Witch / Carolyn MacCullough. Clarion HMH, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Recommendation: Tamsin can’t let evil Alistair Knight go back in time to wipe out her family! Yes, she knows that time Traveling is dangerous, but the fate of the Greenes – and of all unWitch humanity – hangs in the balance.

Few can Travel, and no one else can repel another witch’s Talent or take it away – finding her magic Talent late is better than never, Tam decides, even if she doesn’t want to be “most powerful of them all,” as her grandmother reads the prophecy from the past and future pages of the Greene family book.

Clues indicate that Alistair intends to contact his 19th century relatives with information they could use to ambush the Greenes and prevent them from creating the Domani which controls the powers that witches have over mere humans. So Tamsin decides to get into the Knight household before he can arrive in 1887. Surely Gabriel will be able to draw her back into the present before her sister Rowena’s wedding next weekend…

Posing as a lady’s maid, Tam finds that more than just modern conveniences are lacking in the huge house. The matriarch, La Spider, is using highly unconventional means to retain her youthful appearance and to control her grown son and daughter. And the son is experimenting with ways to use humans, such a bother when they are used up…

Blood and a dungeon, an uncanny stone statue, a stealthy war of magic power that bustling New York City cannot even see – will Alistair succeed in giving Liam Knight the key to defeating the Greenes? Can Tamsin stop the Knight family without stranding herself in the past? Why are the pages of her grandmother’s prophecy book blank past the day Tam left for 1887?

The prophecy heard in Once a Witch (my review here) echoes over and over through the closing book of the duet, as Tamsin strives to do what’s best for her family without destroying the world. One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Valley-Westside War (fiction)

In 1967,
during “the Summer of Love,”
someone dropped the Bomb and began nuclear holocaust…

Why did it happen in one time-continuum and not the others? What made this time-stream different? If Crosstime Traffic seals off this alternate, will if prevent this blight from spreading to others where they trade undercover for resources?

Yes, it’s all about the money for Crosstime Traffic; researchers are allowed to travel to alternate time-streams if there’s a potential commercial advantage for the corporation.

That’s why Liz is spending her gap year between high school and college with her scientist parents in this fragmented L.A. time-stream, with its hippie-talk lingo and scavenged technology. But can she hide her intellect well enough to pass for a young woman of this era during a war between neighborhoods?

You can read the six Crosstime Traffic books in any order, as there are different teens traveling the alternate time-streams in each. The Disunited States of America (review) never saw the Constitution signed – alternate history is an interesting and dangerous place!
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Book info: The Valley-Westside War (Crosstime Traffic #6) / Harry Turtledove. Tor Books, 2008 (paperback, 2009). [author’s website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Nuclear bombs shattered the US in 1967, leaving pockets of survivors and halting technology development – on this parallel timeline. Sent there by Crosstime Traffic, Liz and her parents pose as traders as they try to discover why this Los Angeles is still a patchwork of neighborhood kingdoms at war with one another 100 years later.

In the nearly abandoned UCLA library lit by oil lanterns, Liz scans crumbling magazines and newspapers with her hidden data device, hunting for the war’s trigger point. She can’t visit the library too often, as women here are expected to run the household and stay quiet – women’s liberation never even got started before someone fired the first deadly missiles. Good thing she’ll be at the real UCLA in the home timeline in just a year, instead of fetching water from cisterns during the ongoing drought.

When the Westside City Council decides to charge a toll for wagons coming through Sepulveda Pass on the old highway, King Zev of the Valley declares war. So it’ll be arrows and knives in hand-to-hand combat, as usual – except someone has found an Old Time machine gun and made it work. As killing from a distance becomes possible for the first time in decades, the stakes are much higher for Dan and the other soldiers.

A chance meeting between Liz and Dan may put both their missions in jeopardy, as Dan invents reasons to visit the Mendoza hacienda in enemy territory so he can talk to her again. It’s hard to transmit data reports to the home timeline when Liz doesn’t know when Dan might show up. He is nice to talk to and look at, of course.

As long as the Mendozas act like regular traders and the locals don’t suspect there’s a time station hidden in their hacienda’s basement, everything will be fine… right?

Turtledove brings readers into another alternate strand of history with this exciting episode of the Crosstime Traffic series, asking “what if?” a single event could change everything we know. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy purchased because it looked interesting.

Once a Witch, by Carolyn MacCullough (book review) – prophecy with no power?

book cover of Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough published by ClarionGetting away from a bad situation always seems like a good idea… except when a bigger problem roars down from an unexpected quarter.

There’s always someone, somewhere, who is taller or has a better free throw average or solves the crossword puzzle faster than you – usually we find something else to focus on and things seem better.

But Tam’s birth prophecy said she would be “most powerful” and “a beacon to us all” – she’s not imagining her family’s disappointment as she grows up with no Talent at all. Her mom’s arguments about Tam leaving home made the weather storm and moan; her grandmother’s future-sight never shows whole pictures.

At least Gabriel is here now – his Talent for finding things might help Tam as she searches for the professor’s long-lost family heirloom. And a little time-Traveling with a cute guy…

Followed by Always a Witch which extends and completes the story of Tamsin and the Greenes as they struggle to keep the Knight family from gaining control over humankind.
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Book info: Once a Witch / Carolyn MacCullough. Graphia HMH, 2009. [author’s website] [book website] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Recommendation: Boarding school is a better place for Tamsin, unTalented among her family of powerful witches. There, she can almost forget the words of her seer grandmother – that Tamsin will be most powerful of them all. Ha!

At least her childhood pal Gabriel and his mother have moved back to Hedgerow, where the extended Greene family has lived quietly for many decades, more than content to stay out of public notice. He doesn’t yet know that Tam’s Talent never manifested, but someone will surely tell him soon.

When a professor visits the family bookstore and asks her help in tracing an heirloom, mistaking Tam for her very Talented sister, she agrees. A bit odd that McCallum finds them both in New York City soon after, as Rowena shops for her wedding dress…

Tam’s search for the missing clock takes her and Gabriel much further than she had imagined – back to 1899, in fact, thanks to Gabriel’s time-traveling Talent. But finding the clock triggers a new quest as Tam learns more about her family’s history and their past battles with another group of witches who’d rather rule over unTalented humans than avoid their notice.

Can Tam keep the clock away from the professor long enough to discover its secrets? Have she and Gabriel altered the path of time? How can she do anything to help her family when she has no Talent?

Tam tries to balance her personal world with the larger questions of good versus evil in this first book of a duet which is followed by Always a Witch. Surely Rowena will decide on a wedding dress before it’s all over… (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Between Two Ends, by David Ward (fiction) – jumping into the world of 1001 Arabian Nights

Can you truly dive into the pages of a favorite book?

If you remember the stories of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, then you know about the cruel king, the murdered wives, and clever Scheherazade who kept herself alive by telling the king stories each night.

And you know about the brutal world into which the modern Shari has gone, bewitched into the pages of the “unexpurgated” Arabian Nights, where the king’s wicked behavior was not sugar-coated or glossed-over.

So on this World Wednesday, it will take a pair of bronze pirate bookends, a long-dormant wishing well, and all of Yeats’ courage and ingenuity to set Shari free from her enchantment and bring her back to her grandfather… will it be enough?

An exciting tale from the author of The Grassland Trilogy (reviewed here, here, and here) – are you ready to go Between Two Ends with Yeats?
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Book info: Between Two Ends / David Ward. Amulet Books, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [author video]

Recommendation: Yeats wonders why his depressed father insists on returning to Gran’s house now – something dreadful happened there 20 years ago, something that is never discussed with him.

Meeting eccentric Mr. Sutcliff, stumbling upon that old wishing well in the garden, and uncovering a bronze bookend suddenly takes Yeats into the heart of his family’s mystery.

When his dad was a boy, he and adventurous Shari explored every inch of the garden and read every book in his poet-grandfather’s library, including one special copy of Arabian Nights. One terrible day, Shari was kidnapped from their garden, and William couldn’t stop the men as they escaped with her down the well. Losing his friend has kept him on the brink of madness for years and has turned her grandfather Mr. Sutcliff into a recluse, both certain that their Shari had been taken back in time, back into the oft-told story of her namesake Shaharazad, back to the realm of a king who killed his bride on their wedding night, night after night, bride after bride.

By finding the long-lost pirate bookend and sending a wish into the well, Yeats has reopened the portal into Shaharazad’s world. Does Yeats have the courage to venture into the realms of story and imagination with the pirates? Can a modern boy survive in that brutal ancient kingdom? Can he find Shari and convince her to come back to her grandfather?

This skillful combination of now and way-back-when will keep readers turning its 304 pages, traveling with Yeats to a far-off time and place where danger is the only certainty. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Hannah’s Winter, by Kierin Meehan (fiction) – Japanese ghosts, ancient puzzle mysteries

book cover of Hannah's Winter by Kierin Meehan published by Kane MillerWinter in Japan.
Hot Australia far away.
Ghosts throwing donuts?

A mystery in the snow-shrouded town of Kanazawa is not what Hannah expected when she came to Japan. High school for her, horticultural field study for her mum, and then a ghost who tosses donuts and writes on Hannah’s mirror with sunscreen??

The town’s winter festivals and historic sites draw Hannah and her new Japanese friends Miki and Hiro further and further into a ancient mystery.

Dire visions foretold by three old women and dragons hidden in plain sight – could they be relevant to the task that “the ocean boy” begs them to accomplish? Dive into the puzzles of Hannah’s winter in Japan at your local library or independent bookstore.
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Book info: Hannah’s Winter / Kierin Meehan. Kane Miller, 2009. [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Recommendation: Going to school in Japan instead of starting high school in Australia with her friends worries Hannah; her height and auburn hair will really make her stand out. But a mysterious message from the past sends her exploring her new city quickly.

Her host-father translates the ancient kanji on the fragile paper – it’s a puzzle, asking the finder to “help the ocean boy” by following the cryptic instructions. After “the first snowfall,” Hannah, host-sister Miki, and neighbor Hiro travel to “the temple of secrets” and see a vision from the past!

A boisterous ghost in the house, donuts tossed in the air, messages on her mirror, that recurring dream of the tunnel, a house of cards… Hannah finds they’re all pieces of the puzzle (except the donuts). A suit of samurai armor is delivered to Miki’s shop and puffs out incense with no fire. Japanese school is interesting, but waiting until time to “go at sunrise to wake the dragon” is hard.

Why has the “ocean boy” chosen Hannah to help him finish his task from the past? Is the man suddenly appearing all over their neighborhood “the one who does not want the boy to go”? And why has the samurai armor’s incense smoke changed from blue to yellow?

You’ll get peeks into modern Japanese culture as well as older folktales and traditions as you visit Kanazawa’s festivals and parks with Hannah, Miki, and Hiro to solve the mystery before it’s too late for “the ocean boy.”(One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)