ARC REVIEW: Here And Now And Then – by Mike Chen

Title: Here And Now And Then
Author: Mike Chen
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel
First published: January 29th 2019
Publisher: Mira Books
Finished reading: January 14th 2019
Pages: 336

“We’re all different people all through our lives, but that’s okay, as long as you remember all the people you used to be.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Mira Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I know that science fiction isn’t my typical genre, but there was just something about this story that made me want to read it almost instantly. I have been looking forward to pick up Here And Now And Then for months, but somehow I don’t think my expectations were actually met. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I think it has to do that for a time travel story, I found the sci-fi elements rather weak. Here And Now And Then read more like a romance/family drama with a time travel touch rather than the other way around, and this definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. The story is mostly character driven and while some details are mentioned about the time travel and future, the focus was mostly on Kin and his lives in the 1990s and 2142. The chapters in the future didn’t feel all that authentic or detailed and I didn’t get a proper 1990s vibe from those chapters set in that era either… As I said, the focus was mostly on the characters themselves. There was a whole lot of drama going on and combined with my lack of connection with the characters I had a hard time getting a proper feel for the story. Add a slower pace (not unusual with character driven stories), and I ended up having a completely different experience than I thought I would have… But that is probably just me, since most people do seem to love this story. Sci-fi fans might be disappointed by Here And Now And Then, but fans of family dramas with a sci-fi adventurous touch will probably have a great time.

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Kin Stewart seems to be having a very ordinary life, married with a teenage daughter and working in I.T. in suburban San Francisco in the 1990s. Nobody knows he used to be a time-traveling secret agent from 2142, stranded in the 1990s after a mission went wrong… He has been stranded for eighteen years, keeping his past a secret and making a new life for himself even though that is against the rules of the agency. Then a rescue team suddenly shows up to bring him home to a family he can’t even remember anymore… And Kin suddenly finds himself torn between two lives.

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I had high expectations for Here And Now And Then and this might just have been part of the problem. That and the fact that I was expecting a proper sci-fi story, and encountered myself with mostly a family drama with a lot of romance and only a hint of sci-fi instead… Definitely not what I had in mind when I started this time travel story. I wish the time travel aspect would have been more developed as well as more present in the story… It’s not a bad read and the writing is good, but the story read quite slow and as always with more character driven stories, not being able to connect to the characters puts a damper on things. I’m sure the right audience will love this debut though!


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WWW Wednesdays #205 – January 16th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m trying to get rid of my backlog of pending NG ARCs so I can go back to my backlist titles, so I’m currently reading We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott. So far it’s proving to be a fast read… I’m also starting The Winter Sister by Megan Collins, a title I’ve been really excited about.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Treatment by C.L. Taylor (4/5 stars) REVIEW 20/01
The Treatment started with a bang and sets the right mood of what the author calls is a story that is ‘Prison Break meets One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest but for teens‘. I can definitely understand that reference, especially during those chapters set inside the RRA. I’m not sure all aspects of the plot were completely credible, but it sure made for a very entertaining story! If you are looking for a fast-paced, intriguing and well written YA mystery with a mental health angle, The Treatment is an excellent choice.

2. Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot (3/5 stars) REVIEW 20/01
Let me say before I continue that the problem here is most definitely me, and not this story. Heart Berries is powerful, raw and simply devastating and the writing is lyrical and almost poetic at times. Why didn’t I enjoy this memoir better then? Well, this is mostly a case of me, while truly appreciating the wonderful prose, somehow being unable to connect to the words, story or the things that happened to her. This failed connection made it hard for me to keep myself invested and I didn’t enjoy my reading experience as much as I thought I would.

3. Finding Grace by K.L. Slater (5/5 stars) REVIEW 17/01
Finding Grace is definitely a great way to start the year with a bang. Well written, intriguing, suspenseful, complex and nailbitingly good: oh yes, say hello to my very first 5 star read of the year! I’m a big fan of her work in general and this one might just be my new favorite. What seems to be another kidnapping case at first glance turns out to be so much more… With a lot of extra layers, flashbacks and twists to form a properly complex and well executed plot. You will want to clear your schedule for this one, because it will be VERY hard to stop reading before reaching that final page.

4. The BFG by Roald Dahl (4/5 stars) REVIEW 27/01
I had a wonderful time revisiting this story and its illustrations. I had forgotten most things about the Big Friendly Giant and just how funny his speech is (especially when read out loud to children). The story itself is simple, easy to follow and is actually quite scary if you think about it… But the BFG and his dreams give the story a whimsical twist. It’s a great story for young and old!

5. The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble (3/5 stars) REVIEW 27/01
The story wasn’t told in a linear way, and the actual ‘mystery’ is pushed into the background only to be revealed and rushed to finish at the end of The Insect Farm. Instead, it’s more of a romance story of how Jonathan and Harriet first met and how their lives progressed afterwards. It even has a love triangle! *shudders* It wasn’t my cup of tea, but fans of slower character driven family dramas with a romantic focus and a hint of crime will probably have a better experience.

6. Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen (3/5 stars) REVIEW 22/01
I had high expectations for Here And Now And Then and this might just have been part of the problem. That and the fact that I was expecting a proper sci-fi story, and encountered myself with mostly a family drama with a lot of romance and only a hint of sci-fi instead… Definitely not what I had in mind when I started this time travel story. I wish the time travel aspect would have been more developed as well as more present in the story… It’s not a bad read and the writing is good, but the story read quite slow and as always with more character driven stories, not being able to connect to the characters puts a damper on things. I’m sure the right audience will love this debut though!

7. A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 31/01
I have to say that this story was a slowburner for me. It took me a while to get into the story and get a proper feel for the plot and characters. The warming up was slow, but once I did my feelings soared. There is just something about Eric Lindstrom‘s writing and character development that will manage to win you over even if you think it won’t happen. I can really appreciate how bipolar disorder is put in the spotlight with the help of this story, and it was interesting to see how it was portrayed in both Mel’s character and those around her.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to make a dent in my February NG ARCs… End Of The Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach is up next and also conveniently the first series I will be able to finish this year. Then I’m going to go back to a few backlist titles, with Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes and Bright We Burn by Kiersten White coming up next. I was going to finish the Fire And Thorns trilogy first, but I saw Bright We Burn mentioned a few days ago and I just couldn’t resist picking it up any longer. I need to know what happens to Lada, Radu and Mehmed! My newest TBR jar pick is still The Shattering by Karen Healey. This one is classified as a YA paranormal crime story, so I’m very curious as to how I will react to it.


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WWW Wednesdays #204 – January 9th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m trying to start my year in a diverse way with lots of different genres, and Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot sounded like a perfect fit. This memoir has been recommended to me last year and I’ll be looking forward to dive in properly later today. I’m also FINALLY starting my latest TBR jar pick: The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble. I’m not sure what to make of the blurb, but we’ll see how things go I guess.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (3/5 stars) REVIEW 13/01
Dear The Kiss Quotient, it’s not you, it’s me. I should have known better than to pick you up even though contemporary romance isn’t really my thing. I should have investigated better and discovered you were filled to the brim with sexy scenes, because it would have avoided both of us a lot of pain. Oh yes, for someone allergic to adult content and sexy scenes, The Kiss Quotient is 200% the wrong book to go for. Kind of late for that now, isn’t it? Oh well… I guess I have only myself to blame for this. Even though this story was definitely not for me, I can definitely understand why there is so much love for it. Contemporary romance fans are probably in heaven with this book, because there is one thing I can’t deny: Helen Hoang knows how to write.

2. The Crown Of Embers by Rae Carson (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/01
I admit I had forgotten about a lot of details of the first book and it took a little time to adjust, but I was able to pick up the thread easily enough after a few chapters. The first thing that stands out in this series is the detailed and wonderful worldbuilding. The writing style is engaging and makes it easy to keep reading those pages until you reach the last page. I wasn’t sure about every character; some can get annoying, and I could have done without the romance cliches and love triangle, but overall the story does deliver.

3. Mala Vida by Marc Fernandez (4/5 stars) REVIEW 
If you like stories with an international setting that can offer a little something different and outside the box, you should definitely consider Mala Vida. Part legal thriller, part historical, part mystery and part crime fiction, this story is a mix of a lot of different elements and very well executed at that. I personally loved the Spanish setting, the diversity of the main characters and the story as a whole. The historical element is both well executed and shocking and will definitely leave a mark… A very interesting read and one I’m very glad I came across.

4. The Couple On Cedar Close by Anna-Lou Weatherley (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/01
If you enjoy detective thrillers and unreliable characters, you will definitely have a blast with this detective Dan Riley sequel The Couple On Cedar Close. There is a lot of mystery around both Robert and Laurie and their past, adding suspense to the plot and it will keep you entertained as you guess about the details. The flashbacks are interesting as well as you try to fit them into the rest of the story… I did have some issues regarding the credibility of some parts of the plot and wasn’t sure about some of the characters, but overall it was still an entertaining ride.

5. Artemis by Andy Weir (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 15/01
Part of me already knew this was going to happen, because people did warn me about Artemis before I started reading it… But even lowering my expectations didn’t prevent me from feeling very much disappointed by Artemis, especially since The Martian has a special place on my list of all time favorites.

6. Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (/5 stars) REVIEW 15/01
Beneath The Sugar Sky is already book number three and bumped straight to the top of this series favorites along with the first book. I think part of this has to do with the fact that we go back to the ‘real’ world temporarily and meet a lot of the characters mentioned in the first book again. This mixture of reality and a healthy dose of a glimpse of not one but multiple magical worlds made the story really stand out for me.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to read more backlist titles this year (so far it’s going great), but I also need to work on those upcoming ARCs… Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen and End Of The Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach are up next. I also want to read The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson soon so I can cross off my very first series of the year… And I have a new TBR jar pick: The Shattering by Karen Healey. This one is classified as a YA paranormal crime story, so I’m very curious as to how I will react to it.


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WWW Wednesdays #203 – January 2nd

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

A new year and a new start! After one caipirinha (Brazilian cocktail) on NYE, I needed something easy on the brain so I decided to pick up Goodreads Choice Awards winner The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. Sadly, it turns out to be another case of not-for-me. Sexy scenes and romance cliches? This isn’t going to end well… I’m also starting the sequel The Crown Of Embers by Rae Carson as part of my vow to finish more series this year. And Mala Vida by Marc Fernandez is an upcoming ARC I need to read ASAP. The blurb sounds fascinating, so I’m looking forward to it now that I have recovered from my hangover.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (4/5 stars) REVIEW 07/01
Once I finally started reading and finished the first few chapters, I knew Outlander and me were going to get along just fine. All in all it took me about a week to finish it, which is not bad at all for such a beast of a book… And I had a surprisingly good time with it as well. Why surprisingly, would you say? Well, there are a lot of sexy scenes involved in Outlander, something that normally makes me drop a book like hot coals and discard it right away. They still made me cringe at points (adult content just isn’t for me ladies!), but the rest of the story was intriguing enough for me to tolerate them. The writing is excellent and the worldbuilding is sublime.

2. The Girl Without Skin by Mads Peder Nordbo (4/5 stars) REVIEW 03/01
I was without doubt more than pleasantly surprised by The Girl Without Skin. I like my crime thrillers dark and disturbing, and an interesting international setting is always a bonus for me. This story isn’t for those with a weak stomach, as there are a lot of graphic scenes involved including violence, bloodcurdling murder scenes and abuse. The Greenland setting is excellently executed and it felt like I were there myself along with the main characters… The story itself chilled me to the bone. If you like dark crime thrillers, you should definitely give this one a go!

3. A Spark Of Light by Jodi Picoult (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/01
I’ll start off with saying that abortion is a very tricky topic to write about, and I think Jodi Picoult did it splendidly. Her writing style is just as strong as ever and I also loved the reversed time chapter technique she used. I admit I was confused at first because I didn’t realize that straight away, but I think it adds a little something extra to the story. Why? It’s simply very intriguing to meet the characters at such a critical point in their lives and then slowly find out how they got there… I did see part of the final plot twist bombs coming, although not all. The ending was a bit abrupt for me, and I personally would have liked to see the main characters being followed up for a while longer.

4. Doll Bones by Holly Black (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/01
I was looking for a little something different to read and when I came across this title on my kindle I decided to pick it up on a whim. Sadly, I can’t say I actually enjoyed reading the story. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but part of it had to do that I didn’t like the characters and I had a hard time connecting to the story. The story wasn’t exactly credible and not as scary as I would have thought either.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have two NG ARCs that are up next: Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen and The Couple On Cedar Close by Anna-Lou Weatherley. I also want to read Artemis by Andy Weir, since I’ve been meaning to do so ever since it came out. The Martian is one of my all time favorites, but I’ve been told not to set my expectations too high to avoid disappointment… Well see how things go I guess. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble.


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WWW Wednesdays #198 – November 28th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading two titles… The first a historical fiction ARC set during WWII: A Woman Of War by Mandy Robotham. The second one of the physical copies I got during our Europe trip and one I’ve been meaning to read: Blue Blood by Sara Blaedel. I totally didn’t realize this was the second book of a series, so fingers crossed it can be read as a stand-alone.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Children Of Blood And bone by Tomi Adeyemi (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 09/12
While I do have to say that this first book of a new high fantasy series failed to blow me away completely, I can also understand the love for this story. In fact, I was going to give it an even higher rating before the appearance of the romance scenes… Which I felt were completely unnecessary and made me feel a little disappointed. The writing is good though, and I really like the idea behind Children Of Blood And Bone. The quest was a bit too simple to my taste, and the plot twists a bit too abrupt, but overall it was without doubt a very entertaining YA fantasy read with pleasant enough characters.

2. Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
If you are looking for an interesting thriller read with an original touch, Hunting Annabelle is a good option. Set in 1986, this story doesn’t follow the typical thriller structure and plot and with the help of unreliable narrator Sean you will find yourself spinning in circles while you try to figure out what is happening. The final twists were a bit too farfetched and over the top to be credible for me, but it definitely isn’t something you will see coming… Dark, intriguing, a healthy dose of blood and serial killer and a very interesting mental health angle: Hunting Annabelle has it all.

3. Babel by Gaston Dorren (3/5 stars) REVIEW 04/12
Some of you might already know I’m actually a philologist and linguistics has always been one of my favorite areas of study. Therefore I thought Babel would be perfect for me… I mean, traveling the world through twenty languages that together can make you communicate with at least half of the world population? Sounds like pretty much a dream topic for philologists to me. Sadly, this book failed to hit the mark completely for me.

4. Heresy by Melissa Lenhardt (3/5 stars) REVIEW 05/12
The idea of a historical fiction read with a Western vibe about a gang of female outlaws sounded absolutely fascinating, so I’ve been looking forward to Heresy. While I still think the idea behind this story is fascinating, somehow I wasn’t able to enjoy the execution as much as I thought I would. Between the slower pace, lack of cohesion and parts that dragged, it took me a relatively long time to reach the final page. And while I rooted for Margaret and her gang, I also somehow just wanted to get it over with… And that’s never a good feeling. I do think this was mostly me though, so if you don’t mind a slower pace and an unusual format, you will probably enjoy this one.

5. PLUS+ by Bethany Rutter (4/5 stars) REVIEW 10/12
I know, I know, you are probably as surprised as I am to see this title pop up on my blog. PLUS+ isn’t just a little out of my comfort zone, it’s waaaaaay out. But, as someone who has struggled with her weight her whole life, there was just something about this title that drew me in.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

With only one month left in 2018, I really need to step up my goal game and finally read my 800+ pages book. So I’m going to start Outlander by Diana Gabaldon soon! I’ll probably read it in between other books depending on how much I like it. I also need to read a few more pending ARCs… The Songbird Girls by Richard Parker and Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen are probably next. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble; I won’t be able to get to it this month, but I’m hoping to read it before the year is over.


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