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By Robin Helenthal
Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates is a time travel novel set in both New Jersey in 2039 and in Wisconsin in 1959. When the novel begins, you meet, 17-year –old Adriane Strohl who is the narrator of the story. It begins during her senior year in 2039. She is to be the valedictorian of her senior class which, unfortunately, gets her noticed by the authorities of the “True Democracy” of the North American States or the NAS. After she speaks at her commencement, she is arrested by Homeland Security for treason and cast out of modern society. She is sent back in time to Wisconsin in 1959 as Mary Ellen Enright to attend Wainscotia State University and be reeducated in the hopes that she can return to her own time. While in Wisconsin, she is told she will be under constant observation and must not reveal her real identity. She falls in love with her psychology instructor, Dr. Ira Wolfman and is convinced that he is a fellow exile. As Adriane begins to question her former life and adjusts to the new one, the book ends, leaving the reader to question the meaning of the title.
Master of His Fate by Barbara Taylor Bradford is the first book in the House of Falconer series set in Victorian England. James Falconer is the son of a struggling merchant and has ambitions to rise above his station in life and become a “merchant prince.”Alexis Malvern is the daughter of one of London’s most successful businessmen and known for her business insight and charitable work after setting up a safe house for battered women. Despite years of vowing that she would never marry, she falls in love with a well-to-do banker, Sebastian Trevelyan. They have a whirlwind courtship and engagement and then are separated by tragedy. James and Alexis meet late in the novel when he is hired by Alexis’s father. They are united by single-minded interest in the Malvern family business, so their meeting sets the groundwork for future books in the series.
Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg, the author of The Story of Arthur Truluv, is the story of Lucille Howard who teaches baking classes out of her home to fill her days now that her friend Arthur has passed away. There are many characters in the story who come and go out of her kitchen: Maddy and Nola, Arthur’s daughter and granddaughter; Iris Winters who is new in town and trying to move on from her divorce; Abby Summers whose cancer diagnosis is a challenge that is affecting her family and Tiny Dawson who visits the local diner each day but can’t get the courage to ask out the waitress, Monica Mayhew who in turn, wishes that he would. Lucille’s kitchen is the center point that of the town and highlights the joy that comes from the little things in life.
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