Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Time's Edge (The Chronos Files #2) by Rysa Walker ~ #Review ~ Excerpt ~ #Timetravel

Time's Edge (The Chronos Files #2)
by Rysa Walker
publication: October 21st 2014 by Skyscape

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To stop her sadistic grandfather, Saul, and his band of time travelers from rewriting history, Kate must race to retrieve the CHRONOS keys before they fall into the Cyrists' hands. If she jumps back in time and pulls the wrong key--one that might tip off the Cyrists to her strategy--her whole plan could come crashing down, jeopardizing the future of millions of innocent people. Kate's only ally is Kiernan, who also carries the time-traveling gene. But their growing bond threatens everything Kate is trying to rebuild with Trey, her boyfriend who can't remember the relationship she can't forget.

As evidence of Saul's twisted mind builds, Kate's missions become more complex, blurring the line between good and evil. Which of the people Saul plans to sacrifice in the past can she and Kiernan save without risking their ultimate goal--or their own lives?

About the Author:
RYSA WALKER grew up on a cattle ranch in the South. Her options for entertainment were talking to cows and reading books. On the rare occasion that she gained control of the television, she watched Star Trek and imagined living in the future, on distant planets, or at least in a town big enough to have a stop light.

Timebound, the first book in the CHRONOS Files series, was the Young Adult and Grand Prize winner in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. A CHRONOS Files novella, Time's Echo, is now available exclusively on Kindle, with an Audible version scheduled for release in early June. Time's Edge, the second book in the series, is scheduled for release in October of 2014.

Author Links

If you have not read book one, Timebound, Stop now, this will have spoilers for book one, and you have to read book one to be able to understand this one. This is part of an ongoing storyline in a series.

I have been extremely impressed with this series , since I first started book one, then read Times Echo, a novella. This one is just as exciting if not more than the first. Kate is torn between  2 men, one who loves her (Kiernan) , but she doesn't remember (other timeline that got changed) and Trey, who she loves, but now due to Kate "fixing" a timeline, he doesn't remember her. She has to try to do what is "right" before the Cyrists unleash their wrath on the world.( her grandfather changed history to bring this cult into power and plans to "cull" anyone who won't follow).

This love triangle is not the usual sort at all. The alternant timeline that she was deeply in love with Kiernan is one she doesn't remember. (you can read about that part and the alternate timeline from Kiernan's point of view in a novella Time's Echo) Trey I did like in book one, they fell in love, but now Kate gets to know how it must feel for Kiernan, since she doesn't remember their love , now Trey doesn't remember her at all.

This was all very interesting, but was really only a fraction of the story. Kate jumping around time with Kiernan trying to collect up Chronos Keys was really interesting and kept you on the edge of your seat.

I wont say much more so you can discover this complex plot yourself. One word of advice, pay attention to the time stamp at the start  of the chapters, it will really help you keep  the time travel all straight for you.

I highly recommend this series, and look forward to book 3.

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars.

You can find this review at Goodreads as well.

Chapter One
Dallas, Texas
November 22, 1963, 12:05 p.m.
A pungent whiff of rotting fish hits my nostrils before my eyes open. I guess the stench explains the cats that wandered in and out of my field of vision each time I previewed this jump site over the past few days. Two of them, a scrawny orange tabby and a longhaired white cat with a torn left ear, hiss and watch me warily from the top of the large gray Dempster Dumpster directly behind me. A hand-lettered sign on the front reads “School Book Depository Use Only,” but the fish bones and vegetable scraps around the bin suggest that at least one local restaurant owner either can’t read or doesn’t care.
The awful smell is undoubtedly why CHRONOS made this a stable point in the first place. No sane person would willingly venture within a hundred feet. A historian or two appearing out of nowhere would be noticed only by the cats.
I scan the faces in the photograph one last time and then tuck both the picture and my CHRONOS key under my sweater as I hurry down Houston Street. Turning at Elm, I head toward the R. L. Thornton Freeway Keep Right sign. A crowd is starting to gather along the road. The motorcade is only about ten minutes away, which means this jump is cutting it much too close for comfort, but the minutes leading up to the shooting are the only time I can predict with anything close to certainty where my grandparents will be.
There are no fewer than seven stable points within a five-block radius, a testament to the enduring power of conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy’s assassination, even in the 2300s. I’ve tried three of those stable points already, and at this precise moment, three other versions of me are walking toward Dealey Plaza—one from Market Street, one from Main Street, and one from Record Street. The Kate on Main Street is even wearing this same sweater and blouse, with the silly Peter Pan collar, but about a minute from now, she’ll get hemmed in by the crowd, and at twelve thirty, when the shots ring out in the plaza, she’ll be a full block away. The other two Kates won’t find Timothy and Evelyn Winslow either.
As I near the plaza, which is really just a small park with a white pergola perched on top of the hill, a young couple and two small boys stop in front of me. The older child, who is maybe four, has a tight grip on the skirt of his mother’s red jumper. The littlest guy is sitting atop his dad’s shoulders, both chubby hands grasping the collar of the man’s plaid shirt. The boy leans his small blond head backward to view the world upside down and looks surprised when he sees me a few feet behind him.
His dad is nodding toward a triangular patch of grass in the median area across Elm Street. 
“But . . . maybe we should just stay over on this side, Bill?” The woman appears to be in her early twenties, and her voice is squeaky-high, with a heavy southern drawl. “Over there, we got two streets to worry about them runnin’ into traffic. If we stay here, they can play on the grass while we wait.” 
The dad swings the toddler from his shoulders in a smooth, practiced arc and sets him down on the infamous grassy knoll. He catches my eye as he stands up and gives me a shy grin, looking a bit like a shorter-haired version of the young Elvis Presley. A shiver runs down my spine. I’m not sure why, and then I realize these people are the Newmans, the family from the images and videos I’ve been studying online, who will soon have a front-row seat to the assassination. They’ll be swarmed by the media after the shooting, dozens of reporters snapping photos as the parents lie on the grass, their bodies shielding the kids from the chaos.
I’ve apparently stared for a moment too long, because Newman and his wife exchange a confused look. I give them a nervous half smile and then push past, hurrying toward the concrete steps that lead up to the pergola. 
A picket fence and some large trees camouflage the much less picturesque view of a packed-dirt parking lot behind the plaza. Most of the trees are still green, even in late November, but a few are beginning to shed their reddish-gold leaves. Three or four people are walking around near the fence. I keep reminding myself to just look for the powder-blue Ford Fairlane. Still, I can’t help but notice a young guy with a thin mustache looking out over the grass embankment and staring intently toward the street, his left leg twitching slightly. He’s leaning against the fence and smoking a cigarette. It’s too warm for the jacket he’s wearing—could that bulge in his pocket be a pistol? And that shaded space between the tree and the fence could definitely hide a rifle . . .
I shake my head, pulling my attention back to the more important issue, and finally locate the car that I glimpsed briefly from the sidewalk on my last jump, just before shots filled the air and ended any chance I had of getting close to the plaza. The Fairlane is parked about twenty-five yards away, behind a dirty red truck with a flat front tire. 
There are many powder-blue 1959 Ford Fairlanes on the road in 1963, so this might be another dead end. I shift my path to the right, hoping to slip around the truck and a few other cars so that I can approach them unnoticed from the back of the lot. Assuming my grandparents are even in the car, and not hanging out over near Zapruder, photo-bombing his home movie. Or up on the sixth floor of the Depository, watching for Lee Harvey Oswald. We’re putting a great deal of faith in Katherine’s memory of a brief conversation with Evelyn nearly fifty years ago.
Connor oohed and aahed over the images of this “classic” car when we were researching the vehicle online, but I’m sorry—cars from this era are major eyesores. The tail fins alone have enough metal to make a Prius or two. Aesthetics aside, however, I’m currently kind of fond of the fins, because they provide a bit of extra coverage as I move around the car in full crouch mode. 
There are two people in the car, but they’re so entwined that I can hardly tell where one begins and the other ends, let alone be sure if they resemble the picture my dad gave me. If it is them, I know that this steamy embrace is mostly a cover. They’re hoping the guy at the fence, or any other potential “second shooter,” will ignore a young couple making out in the parking lot and they’ll have front-row seats for history as it happens. They probably aren’t even breathing heavy. But there’s still something distasteful about sneaking up to introduce yourself to someone who may be your twenty-five-year-old grandmother when her shirt is half undone and your grandfather has just made it to second base. 
I pull out my CHRONOS medallion. The picture and my phone are in my other hand. While I’d never be able to pick up a signal in 1963, the phone will still play the videos that Katherine and Dad recorded to support my story. 
I debate for a moment whether to tap politely on the window. Her hair is the same dark copper as the woman in the Polaroid, however, so I decide to just go for it. With a quick tug on the chrome handle, the door of the Fairlane swings open. I’m in the backseat, holding up my CHRONOS key like a police badge before they realize what’s happening. 
Evelyn casts a furious glare at me in the rearview mirror and immediately starts buttoning up her sweater. Timothy looks back, and I have the odd sensation of seeing my father’s “angry” face, fifteen years younger and maybe ten pounds heavier. Dad’s really mellow, so I’ve only seen that face a few times—the occasion I remember most clearly was when I was maybe five years old and tried to see if the laser in a DVD player will heat up a Pop-Tart. (It won’t.)
“We. Are. In the middle. Of research.” He jerks his head angrily toward the guy at the fence. “That man might be James Files and—”
“And maybe he’s the second shooter. Yeah, I know, and I’m sorry. One of you can keep watching if you want.”
Evelyn slinks down in the seat so that she can keep her eyes pointed at the guy without being too obvious. “I’ve never seen you at CHRONOS,” she says, “so I’m guessing you’re from one of the earlier cohorts? Or later maybe?” 
I hand the photograph to Timothy. It shows the two of them a few years older, laughing. He’s holding a dark-haired little boy high over his head. A partial view of the passenger side of this powder-blue Ford is in the background. 
“It depends on your perspective, I guess. I’m Kate. I’m your granddaughter. The little guy you’re holding in that picture is my dad.”
Most people never have to introduce themselves to their own parents or grandparents, but I seem to be making a career out of it. Three months ago, I sat across from my dad at a picnic table and tried to convince him that I was his daughter from another timeline. Then I chased two different versions of Katherine, my maternal grandmother, around the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. I gave the same introduction to her on both occasions in order to prevent her murder and my subsequent total lack of existence. If I ever meet my other grandfather, Saul Rand, I’ll have a full set— but I really hope I never encounter him face-to-face. He’s the reason I’m in this mess to begin with. And if his people find out I’m interfering, all hell is going to break loose.
Timothy glances from the picture to me, then back to the picture, before passing it over to his wife. She looks at me in the rearview mirror for a moment, then turns her gaze back to the guy at the fence. “She has got your eyes, Timo.” 
I can tell he’s still annoyed, but his face softens a bit. “So, what’s up, Kate? Unless CHRONOS rules change pretty dramatically in the next few decades, you’re not supposed to be here. No interaction with family, right?” 
Evelyn sighs. “Let’s just go back to the stable point. We can check out this guy on the next jump. We should get back to CHRONOS, and so should she.”
I’d like nothing more than to get out of this parking lot, since we’ve got only a few minutes before someone here, at the School Book Depository, or both will fire at the black Lincoln Continental convertible carrying JFK and Jackie. But I feel a bit guilty. They’ve been working on this puzzle for months. 
“If you really want to know whether that’s James Files, you need to keep watching. You won’t be able to make another jump. CHRONOS is gone.”
They both turn and stare at me for a moment, then Timothy cranks the ignition and shoves the gearshift into reverse. “If that’s true, we need to get out of here while we still can. We’ve got bigger problems than figuring out which thug killed Kennedy.”
The first route he tries is cordoned off for the parade, but two blocks over, the congestion clears up pretty fast. None of us talk until the car crosses a bridge a few blocks away. Evelyn keeps glancing across the backseat at me, her face conflicted. The light sprinkling of freckles across her nose looks a bit like my own, but otherwise, I look much more like my mom’s side of the family. Aside from the green eyes, which were clearly passed down to Dad from the man in the driver’s seat, and a fading scar on my neck just below the right jawline, which is a recent acquisition, I’m pretty much a dead ringer for my aunt Prudence. That complicates my life considerably, given that she’s playing for the other team.
“What happened?” Evelyn asks. “We knew there was something going on when that guy dragged Shaila into the jump room. I told Timo the jump felt wrong. I twisted my ankle when we landed at the stable point on Wednesday and that just never happens.”
The car turns off the road into a small parking lot. A dark orange rectangular sign—A&W Ice Cold Root Beer—juts out from the top of a low building.
Evelyn’s eyes narrow. “And why are we stopping here?” Timothy pulls the car up beneath the orange-and-whitestriped awning, near a cluster of picnic tables arranged in the center. “I’m hungry and thirsty, and I suspect this is going to be a long talk. From what Kate’s saying, we can’t wait and eat when we get home, can we? What do you ladies want?”
She rolls her eyes. “Not hungry, Timothy.” 
I just shake my head. Timothy shrugs, then gets out of the car and walks over to the building, where a middle-aged man in a white paper hat slides open the window to take his order.
“If we’re stuck here long, he’s going to gain forty pounds,” Evelyn says. “He’s gone up two belt notches since we started researching Kennedy. I don’t know how people live past fifty on this diet.”
I give her a weak smile but say nothing. It won’t matter how many chili dogs he eats. Keeping his cholesterol low won’t stop the log truck from hitting their station wagon in 1974. Neither of them will survive, and Dad will wake up in the hospital two days later, a five-year-old without a family. And I can’t say anything that might change that path, since it’s the one that produces me, and, as Katherine is fond of saying, I’m the new last best hope for Earth. Or at least for the majority of its population.
“So, how long are we—” she begins, and then holds up her hands. “Never mind. Wait until he’s back, or you’ll just have to say everything twice.”
We sit there for a few moments, and while we wait I hit the “Video” button on my phone and start to record. I get a few seconds of Evelyn watching Timothy with an affectionate but still totally exasperated look on her face. Then he walks back to the car, holding a metal tray with three tall frosted mugs and a couple of chili dogs piled high with cheese and onions. He taps on Evelyn’s window with his knuckle. She turns the window crank. “You’re the one eating these things, so why don’t you put them on your side? They stink.”
He ignores her, attaches the tray to her window, and then heads back around the car to the driver’s side. Evelyn waits until he’s seated and then hands him the chili dogs, her nose wrinkled in disgust.
“Ev is vegan,” Timothy says. “I am, too, usually, but hey—when in Rome, right? I just treat these trips as a vacation from vegan.” He takes a big bite out of the first dog as Evelyn passes a root beer back to me. I kind of agree with her about the chili dogs, but the root beer—I don’t know if it’s the frosted mug, the crushed ice, or the lack of high-fructose corn syrup, but it tastes a lot better than the stuff I’m used to drinking. 
I raise my eyebrows in silent question, and Evelyn nods. “Go ahead and start, Kate. I think we’ll be able to hear you over his chomping.”
“Actually, it might be easier to let Katherine tell you.” I navigate to the video that we made at Katherine’s house, turning the screen toward Timothy and Evelyn. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times, and I know it by heart. We spent a full week trying to figure out how much we could say without endangering the timeline. 
“Evelyn, Timothy,” Katherine begins. “It’s been a long time.” 
Evelyn draws in a sharp breath through her nose. When they saw her a few days ago, Katherine was around their age, midtwenties, with long blond hair. The woman on the screen is in her sixties, and her gray hair, although a bit longer than when I met her, is still very short due to last year’s chemo treatments. She’s sitting in the library, at a desk near the window. 
“I don’t know if you’ve tried to pull up headquarters, but you won’t be able to reach anyone. It’s just a black void. My jump took me about six years ahead of you. 
“I know you’ll want to try your keys, if you haven’t already, and I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t take this on faith, either. But they won’t get you back to HQ. It’s been more than forty years, and I still get nothing but black with a bit of static mixed in. 
“So . . . the emergency protocol is in place. I’m sure you know better than I do where the closest CHRONOS safe-deposit box is. Once you get your new identities—” 
Evelyn holds up one hand. “Switch that off. Now.”
I pause the video.
“She’s saying that we’re stuck here, Timo. Just like I was afraid of when my diary vanished. When I couldn’t pull up HQ.” Her face is pale. Timothy reaches for her hand. 
“But if the keys don’t work, if CHRONOS is gone, how did you get here?” he asks me.
I glance down at the video. “Maybe we should let Katherine finish? She can tell this better than I can.”
I push “Play,” and Katherine’s voice continues. “—you’ll need to get on with your new lives. In case you’re wondering, it was Saul in the burqa with the knife to Shaila’s throat. He caused the explosion. And . . . a few hours before that, he killed Angelo.”
Tears well up in Evelyn’s eyes as Katherine continues. “Richard and I had just found Angelo’s body and asked the jump coordinator to call security when Saul burst in, dragging Shaila in front of him, and told them not to cancel the jump. He took Shaila’s spot— based on what we know now, I’m pretty sure he’s landed sometime after 2020.
“Saul’s hope was that destroying CHRONOS would allow him to jump from one point in time to the next, without being forced to return to HQ after each jump. But he miscalculated. He can’t use the CHRONOS keys any more than we can, but he’s learned the same thing I did. The CHRONOS gene passes on to our children and our grandchildren. I was pregnant with twins when I arrived in 1969. One of the girls, Prudence, had an accident with the key when she was fourteen. She’s been with Saul ever since. The other daughter, Deborah—well, I introduced her to this guy.”
Dad moves into the picture, with me at his side. Katherine and I argued for hours over whether this was a good idea. She said no, absolutely not, and initially Connor sided with her, but I won him over to my point of view. Timothy and Evelyn would probably believe me either way, but would they be willing to turn over their CHRONOS keys? I thought that plea would be much more effective coming from their son. 
“Mom. Dad. If I could use the CHRONOS key, I’d have come myself.” Dad choked up a tiny bit when we recorded that part, and we had to restart the video a few minutes later. He barely remembers either of them, and he would love nothing more than to have taken my place. “It kind of glows when I touch it, but I can’t operate it.” 
He puts his arm around me and gives my shoulders a squeeze. “So anyway, I’m sending Kate, in my—” 
Evelyn reaches out for the phone and touches the screen to pause it, as she’d seen me do a moment ago. “Timo and I—we’re not around whenever this is, are we?”
“You know I can’t tell you that . . .”
“You don’t have to. It’s written all over his face.” 
Damn it. Katherine was right. And as much as I love Katherine, I really don’t like it when she’s right.
“And,” she continues, “if we were around, you’d be showing a recording of the two of us explaining all of this, not Katherine.”
That’s true as well, and it makes me feel better about pulling Dad into the video. They would probably have figured it out either way. I push “Play” again, and Dad continues. “—place. Things are kind of crazy now. This Saul guy has set some things into motion that I don’t fully understand, but Kate says he’s planning to wipe out a good chunk of the population. So we’re trying to do an end run around his people and collect these keys before they can.”
Katherine leans back in. “I think Kate can answer any other questions you might have. The reality is simple—you can’t use the keys, and if you keep them, Saul’s people will try to take them. I’m really sorry—I wish I was able to give you better news, to tell you that this was just a temporary glitch and CHRONOS would have everything patched up shortly, but you’d find out soon enough anyway.
“You’re going to hear from a much younger version of me in a few years. It would be best if you don’t mention Kate’s visit to her . . . mention it to me, that is. It could . . . complicate things even more than they already are. Take care, okay?” 
The video stops there. We had recorded a few minutes more, but Katherine thought that Dad saying goodbye might tip them off about future events, so she had Connor cut that section. 
Evelyn grabs the phone from me and pokes the screen a few times, but nothing happens. “How do you reverse this stupid thing?”
“Should I go to the beginning?” 
“No. Just back to—” Her look is raw and vulnerable. “What’s his name, Kate? What is my son’s name?”
“I can’t. You know I can’t tell you—”
“Oh come on, Ev. Give her a break. You know his name. He’s Alphonse, after your dad. We’ve discussed this half a dozen times. And if he’d been a girl—wait, he is named Alphonse, right, Kate?”
“You know I can’t tell you that.” I begin rewinding to where Dad starts talking, trying to keep my face neutral, so that nothing I do influences their decision. But it’s hard to keep from grinning at how close Harry Keller came to being named Alphonse. 
I find the spot on the video and push “Play” again as I hand it to Evelyn. She pauses it before Dad can start talking. She doesn’t say anything, just stares at the screen.
After a moment, her expression shifts to a tight, almost angry look, and my heart sinks into my stomach. If this doesn’t go well, Katherine won’t exactly rub my face in it, but she will almost certainly find a subtle way to remind me that she was against Dad being in the video. This jump was supposed to be a sure thing. Before Saul, Prudence, and their Cyrist underlings managed to reset the timeline, these two keys were in our possession. Kiernan said they were relatively easy to get, but he doesn’t know the specifics because that other version of me, his Kate, Other-Kate, KatePast, whatever you want to call her, handled that jump before they met. And I have no clue what that Kate did, because in every sense that matters, she’s not me.
“I’m not sure if Katherine knows,” Timothy says, “but this was supposed to be a five-day trip. Everything around Dealey Plaza is going to be locked down and cordoned off, so we can’t get back to the stable point until around noon tomorrow at the very earliest. I’m not saying I don’t believe you. We’ve known something was wrong since Ev’s diary disappeared. She tried to send a question to HQ, and instead of getting an answer, it just . . . kind of . . . evaporated.”
“Katherine said that happened to her, as well.” 
“But,” he continues, “even though I do believe you, Katherine was right. I don’t think we should give up these keys until we know for certain there’s no return trip. I hope you can understand that?”
I nod. We’d kind of expected this. 
“You’re not going to be able to get out until then, either, Kate. I mean, unless you came in from a stable point outside of Dallas, you’re stuck—”
“I can actually leave from right here,” I say. “I have to arrive at a stable point, but I can jump to another point from any location. It’s what Saul was trying to set up for himself, but it didn’t work.”
Evelyn is still staring at the frozen image of Dad with his arm around me, tears streaming down her face. I’m not sure if she’s even listening.
“What does he want, Kate?” Timothy asks. “Why did Saul do this?”
A few months back, I asked the same question of Katherine and Connor. The only answer they had for me then was that Saul wanted power, all the power he could get. And while we have more information now, that’s still the gist of it. 
I shrug. “He wants to play God. To decide who lives and who dies. To create his version of paradise, where only those who see things his way get to stick around.”
We’re all silent for a moment, and then I ask, “Where should I meet you tomorrow? And when?” 
Evelyn turns toward me halfway through the last question, like she’s just remembered I’m in the car, and hands me back the phone. She pulls her CHRONOS key from underneath her sweater and blouse and yanks the chain over her head, almost throwing it at me. 
“Just give her your damn key, Timothy! We’ve tried to reach HQ five times already. There’s no reason to think we’ll get a signal tomorrow.” Her voice softens a bit as she looks at me. “You don’t need to come back, Kate.” 
“Thank you, Evelyn.” As I’m stashing her key in the pocket of my sweater, something occurs to me. “Um—if I should happen to show up again and start asking questions, double-check my eye color, okay? And look for this.” I pull back my hair a bit and turn my right cheek toward her, revealing the relatively new and, thankfully, fading pink scar on my neck. Aunt Prudence might be smart enough to wear green contacts, but she doesn’t know about my encounter with H. H. Holmes in Chicago. “If you don’t see the scar, it’s not me, and you can’t tell her anything. She’s with Saul.”
Timothy pulls the CHRONOS key from his pocket as he unfastens the little clip that attaches it to his belt loop. He holds the glowing blue circle level in the palm of his hand and stares at the hourglass in the center, watching as the sands flow back and forth. 
“What color is it for you, Kate?” he asks.
This seems to be the CHRONOS equivalent of chatting about the weather. Everyone sees the light at the center of the medallion differently. “It’s blue,” I reply. “Like an impossibly bright sky.”
A sad smile touches his lips. “Really? Me, too. It’s pink for Ev.”
I smile back at him and then glance over at Evelyn. “Dad can only pick up the light occasionally, but when he does, he says it looks pink to him. So, I guess he gets that from you.”
Her bottom lip quivers a bit. She reaches over and places her hand on the side of my grandfather’s face, a face so much like that of the son they’ll never see grow up. 
“Timo, that life is over. Just give her your key so she can get back home. And get rid of that stinking chili dog. We’re not on vacation anymore.”


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