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How to Stop Time
by Matt Haig
The typical work of historical fiction takes a character from a specific time and place and imagines, hopefully based on some research, what life would have been like for that person. How to Stop Time is not a “typical work of historical fiction.” Author Matt Haig dares to explore what would happen if certain people were naturally genetically designed to age slowly, to live hundreds of years. What would life be like for that person? What would the response of others be to them? How do you form a relationship with someone who will certainly age at a different rate? What if one of these “albatrosses” becomes powerful enough to use various means to control the others?
How to Stop Time follows Tom Hazard as he negotiates life in the twenty-first century and reflects on events in his past spanning multiple centuries, locations, careers and aliases. He is musically inclined and along the way discovers an aptitude for teaching history.
Tom is a likable character whose situation is in some ways different from the circumstances of “normal” human beings. In many aspects, however, his struggles are the same as he tries to fit in, decides how open to be with those he meets, and battles with opening his heart. We all on occasion want to stop time to savor the moment, to revisit past decisions, and to look ahead into the future.
How to Stop Time is an excellent work of fiction, well-written and interesting. It introduces historical characters such as Shakespeare and Captain Cook, but there are equally fascinating fictional characters who convincingly embody the everyday men and women of past generations. With its fast-moving storyline, this book is one I recommend you add to your To Be Read list.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to the Penguin Group (Viking) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Historical Fiction
Publication: February 6, 2018—Penguin Group (Viking)
I had no idea I had been looking for her, but now I had found her, I had no idea what would happen. I felt like I was spinning fast and out of control, like the seed of a sycamore, traveling on a changing wind.
I kept going cross the desert and over dry hills and mountains and past a large quarry that seemed to my delirious mind like the blackness of death itself calling me towards it like the River Styx.
I can’t right now think of a better purpose in life than to be a teacher. To teach feels like you are a guardian of time itself, protecting the future happiness of the world via the minds that are yet to shape it.
What does it look like in January at 7,785 feet in the mountains near the town of Pátzcuaro in the state of Michóacan, Mexico? It is not as cold as the same altitude in northern New Mexico in the U.S.: the lows where we live in Mexico are currently about the same as the highs in northern NM (the 40’s F). This is the dry season of the year, so we have to water the grass and other plants. But it is beautiful. I took a side trip into a neighbor’s yard, always looking for even a little flat land for walking. I mentally call it my secret garden because it is tucked away behind tall grasses. So, join me as I enter my borrowed secret garden and take a peek at the beautiful plants growing there.
The Christmas Train
Have you ever considered traveling across the United States by train? Come aboard The Christmas Train to discover a slower pace, to form temporary friendships, and perhaps to fill a love sized hole. Peopled with interesting characters and set on two different Amtrak trains, The Christmas Train tells of the adventure of reporter Tom Langdon as he fulfills his father’s dying wish to walk in Mark Twain’s footsteps and finish an uncompleted work based on railroad travel across the U.S.
The book starts gently and slowly, but the pace picks up as Tom interacts with his fellow passengers. Author David Baldacci delivers surprise complications and an unexpected ending in this touching tale of a journey of the heart.
Category: General Fiction (Adult)
Notes: This was recently made into a Hallmark movie. Since it is unavailable to me in Mexico, I decided to purchase the book and read it.
Publication: 2002—Hachette Books
“It’s that pioneer spirit. You don’t take a train because you want to get somewhere fast. You take it for the journey itself. To be surprised.”
“It’s been my experience that most folk who ride trains could care less where they’re going. For them it’s the journey itself and the people they meet along the way. You see, at every stop this train makes, a little bit of America, a little bit of your country, gets on and says hello. That’s why trains are so popular at Christmas. People get on to meet their country over the holidays. They’re looking for some friendship, a warm body to talk to.”
“It’s often said that God works in mysterious ways. You have to really think about what He’s trying to do. You can’t be lazy and believe in God; He doesn’t make it that easy. It takes spirit and faith and passion to really believe. Like most things worthwhile in life, you get back what you put into it. Only with faith, you get back a lot more.”
This summer I took a road trip from New Mexico to the South to visit friends and family. My route took me through the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Missouri (going East), Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arkansas (going West). I was driving my appropriately designated “Desert Sky Blue” Ford Thunderbird, but going through my head was “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet.” I hope the people who came up with that ad campaign, tune, and lyrics were well compensated–now that was branding!
Most of my time was well spent reminiscing and catching up. I was treated to some sightseeing along the way.
Paducah, Kentucky, is restoring its downtown area. So much interesting history there! We had a delicious lunch at a bakery that survived a major flood and currently includes a café, walked the brick paved streets admiring period storefronts, viewed fantastic murals along the riverbank, and lingered in a local museum with fascinating memorabilia.
In Asheville, North Carolina, I enjoyed the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In Chattanooga, Tennessee, I went to the National Cemetery. It may seem like a strange place to visit, but I have memories of going there as a little girl with my father like you would go to a park. I had a fuzzy recollection of a “train statue” and was eager to make a better connection. There is a memorial there to Andrews’ Raiders and the Great Locomotive Chase, a military raid in 1862 during the American Civil War. The locomotive pictured below is a model of The General. The memorial is surrounded by tombstones of some of those involved and indicates which ones were executed, escaped, or exchanged.
A bit of history has been brought to life in the James County Courthouse which has been remodeled with a wedding chapel upstairs and a tearoom, which I highly recommend, beneath–wonderfully decorated, delicious food, and a friendly staff.
Always good to travel and always good to return to a place you call home. The New Mexico desert is a welcome sight as I head towards my mountain retreat.
As you know if you have read many of my reviews, I LOVE a good mystery. I did not, however, set out in May to create one of my own by my sudden disappearance from digital media–email, blogging, even What’s App. I didn’t even plan on taking a “social media break” as some do from time to time for various reasons. For weeks now, I have been literally and digitally out of touch because of lack of connectivity through traveling, failing digital infrastructure in northern New Mexico, and exhaustion!
I’ll post a few pictures to show what I have been up to. I will not post any to depict the hours spent trying to deal with various issues with MVD, Verizon, and other business concerns in the U.S. When you have been out of country for a while these issues pile up, are interrelated and clamor to be handled all at once.
First a trip to the U.S./Mexico border with our two dogs. A few hours after we hit the road, we were sideswiped by a semi. Really nice man, same insurance company as ours, but we lost almost two hours of precious daylight. If there is one rule of thumb about driving in Mexico, it is DON’T DRIVE AT NIGHT. We had to drive from the middle of Mexico to the northern part of New Mexico with no sideview mirror because our insurance stipulates that it must be repaired in Mexico.The border! Now to find our hotel and get the dogs arranged for the night.
Next day–Eagle Pass to Roswell with no alien encounters
Then on to Albuquerque where we got to see these lovely ladies compete in volleyball (silver medal winners), visited with family, and picked up a new bike for my husband. Four more (cold for my husband on the bike) hours later we finally make it HOME!
Follow this up with trips back to Albuquerque for servicing and paperwork on the bike and up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, for Plan B on establishing a better Internet connection.
On May the 16th we should be on the road for a motorcycle trip, but Chama is unseasonably cold, and motorcycling in cold weather is just not fun. By cold, I mean FREEZING:
On May 20th, with temperatures above 50º we left on a three day ride to Tyler, TX. These were long days in the saddle. At the end of the day I just wanted dinner and a bed!
After a great visit with John’s family and a tour of the famous Tyler Rose Gardens and Museum,
we headed to Arkansas to ride the Ozarks for 3 days
followed by 3 more days of riding to get back to northern New Mexico. We unfortunately caught a respiratory infection requiring some recuperation time after we got home.
Mystery solved–from disappearance to reappearance. Adventure is fun, but it’s always good to be home again–even if where you hang your hat is in several countries.
It only took TWO WEEKS (24/7) to synchronize all of my pictures with iCloud, but it did work as far as I can tell. While that was happening, I was afraid to touch my pictures. Now I am ready to share some more of Mexico, starting with this past weekend. A few of these pictures were taken previously, but I did take all of them in Mexico.
Saturday Night Empanadas–perfect with a game of Scrabble!
Perfect Blooms Just in Time for Easter
I think everyone from North of the Border who lives in Mexico has a postal service story to tell. Today I saw a post on Facebook from a friend who lives in Ajijic, Jalisco. This week she received two Christmas cards, one from Canada and one from the U.S., that were sent in December. Not bad. Lots of mail doesn’t ever arrive. We discourage anyone who has a notion of using the postal service, but I have used it twice in ordering some pills from a Mexican company. BOTH times they arrived in good shape in about 2-3 weeks. I consider that a success. So today I am posting a picture of the beautiful stamps that were on the last package (in December) in honor of the brave young men in Mexico who ride little motorcycles laden with letters and packages and negotiate the roads filled with drivers with “interesting” driving habits. Salud!
A little collection of some of my favorite closeups from the beach:
Head for Mexico: The Renegade Guide
by Don Adams
I picked this book up in the second hand book room at the Lake Chapala Society Library for a few pesos. This is an informative book written with a sense of humor. Don Adams doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he doesn’t want you to take yourself too seriously either. He has organized the book well so that you can enjoy it in its entirety or you can pick and choose sections as needed. I already live in Mexico, so my perspective was one of comparing my experiences with his. Although he has spent a lot of time in the Lake Chapala area (home of MANY expats from the U.S. and Canada), he also has lived in many other parts of Mexico. Just like other countries, there is no ONE Mexico, but Adams accurately offers up a taste of cultural differences South of the Border with respect for the kind and generous people here. Unlike his Internet references which are about 14 years old, the people of Mexico have not changed much since he wrote the book. I found it to be an accurate portrayal of life in Mexico where one should always expect the unexpected.
Category: Travel, Nonfiction (Adult)
Notes: Some government information and Internet references are dated, but it still stands as a good resource for someone thinking about moving to Mexico.
Publication: August 11, 2003–Trafford Publishing
Here’s typical (and accurate) advice from Don Adams to give you a flavor of the book: “And a lot of folks caution against driving at night. Actually, nobody in their right mind would even want to consider this. Usually it’s just me and the truckers flying through the dark, although you’ll usually find a pretty active level of traffic on the autopistas connecting the major cities.”
Welcome to Zihuatanejo in the state of Guerrero–a tourist town with a traditional, colonial feel alongside a port, beaches and beautiful views. The average high temperature is 89.8° F (32.1° C) and it varies only a degree or two from that all year.