Category: Time Travel


So, guess who got hit with a fun little dose of anxiety about actually starting her new job back on Wednesday. It’s me. I spent so much time getting up and looking for things to do that I got just about nothing done. All the same though, I’m happy to share this one with you all. The nice folks at Tor Teen sent it to me ages ago and I’m finally talking about it. By an author I’ve reviewed several times before, Ann Aguirre, this is Heartwood Box. Enjoy!

Heartwood Box cover

Araceli Flores Harper’s parents sent her to live with her great aunt Ottillie for her own safety. On paper, the town is safer than nearly anywhere Araceli could possibly be. No crime. No outward threats. But people, her great uncle included, have been disappearing for years with no trace found. That’s concerning enough on its own. But between her new pen pal from World War 1 and the disappearance of her best friend Araceli will need to dig deep into the town’s mysteries for the truth regardless of the danger.

Ann Aguirre’s Heartwood Box does an interesting job of balancing the mystery of what causes the disappearances and Araceli’s attempts to figure them out and the sort of romance across time between Araceli and Oliver.

Aguirre is one of those authors that I adore with major exception to how she writes romance, Heartwood Box is a fascinating exception to that. Something, I think, about how she balances the romance against the plot and Araceli’s feelings about other characters. The plot is allowed to happen without being entirely devoured by the romance. As the plot gets more serious it feels like Araceli leans more heavily on the impossible romance with Oliver. And yet, the only thing that feels lost to the romance was the possible love triangle with the boy next door class clown, Logan, which did not feel like a loss at all given the characters involved.

It actually becomes difficult to talk more about the plot, beyond going over how it balances with the romance, without spoiling the climax. Which is a bit frustrating because the real mystery only kicks in later in the book, the first half or so of the story is introduction and lead up. And yet, it is introduction and lead up that is done well enough that I was almost disappointed when the end started getting closer. I was enjoying seeing Araceli trying to figure out how she was communicating with Oliver, seeing her finding out more about the town, even her interactions with Logan made for good character work and made him feel like more of a character than just the third wheel guy. The character work over all is good actually, I enjoyed reading the interactions between Araceli and her friends. I wanted to see more of them, more of their stories, it made for great side characters because they felt solid and like they had their own stories going on off page.

My problem, if I had a problem at all, with Heartwood Box is the ending. Trying not to go too far into it, it feels way beyond Araceli’s scope. By nature of the narrative and the book to that point, the reader has to stick with Araceli for the ending but then the things that happened seem vastly out of step with what both the reader and Araceli herself know and could expect. It leaves her feeling unmoored in a way that could easily have been the start of a completely different story. This is definitely a matter of necessity, again the reader has to stick with her or it would be way too jarring, but the difference has to be tremendous enough for the reader to get the sheer magnitude of how much changed from the comparatively small scope of Araceli’s life in this small town in New York. It is a trade off that I’m not entirely sure works, but acknowledge had to be made.

Which brings me to this, I liked Heartwood Box a great deal. It falls pretty far from my usual genre preferences but the characters were interesting and the mystery was well constructed enough that I got hooked. It reminded me of the parts of Ann Aguirre’s writing that I really enjoy and made me want to check out more of her YA works. So it earns a four out of five from me. If I felt more confident with the ending it would have gotten a five.

I think this book might have kicked off my recent reading streak. I enjoyed it a great deal and very much appreciate Entangled Teen’s providing me with a copy for review. Here’s Pintip Dunn’s Malice. Enjoy!

Malice cover

In a shattering flash of electricity Alice was visited by a voice claiming to be from the future. A voice that would go on to inform her that one of the students at her school is the creator of a virus that, in her time, has killed all but a third of the human population. A voice that charges her with finding out who this person is and stopping them before it is too late. But the voice’s orders often feel contradictory or nonsensical and Alice finds herself questioning if following its orders is really the best way to save the future. Is there anything that she can do to save the future outside of the voice’s orders? And why is it so insistent that she avoid one specific boy?

There is a lot to recommend Pintip Dunn’s Malice. The concept is interesting, the idea of a sort of indirect time travel and the implications of that fascinate me. So does the way the story was laid out, with Alice being pulled in different directions by the voice and her own feelings and fears, but it does so while laying out a solid path to who the virus maker might be and building layers of characterization for most of the cast.

The characters for the most part felt like characters. They felt like they existed for more reasons that to support the romance sub plot between Alice and Bandit and, more importantly, most of them felt like they could have been the protagonists of the book if it had been written from a different angle. Even the nameless background students feel like they could have been characters. Alice notes people interacting in the background as part of describing her surroundings. The only real exceptions here have their reasons for being comparatively out of focus, though there were a couple of characters that I found myself wishing we had seen more of.

The plot is well laid out, a reader can pretty easily catch on to where things are going. Though enough unexpected happens that the book never gets boring. Even the romance subplot is well done, it feels like Alice is actually getting to know Bandit rather than just them suddenly being in love. It fits well with the plot too, supporting and complementing it rather well.

One of the only things I have a real complaint with is how the confrontation with the virus maker was handled. It felt rushed in an odd way, almost like Dunn only had so many pages she was allowed and was running out of them. There was all this set up baked in for the virus maker, right up to the climax where the virus maker sounded both heartbreakingly young and so far gone that it sort of made the rest of the ending not work for me. It was not the worst ending that I have ever read by any means, but I would have liked for it to have been given a little more space to settle in.

I had a lot of fun with Malice. There were moments when I wanted Alice to go ahead and figure out what was going on so that we could get into the fighting back part. There were moments where something clicked and I just knew where things were moving. It was a book that I was willing to go with the flow on and see how things fell into place. The writing was well plotted and, while Malice is vehemently a standalone book, I find myself looking forward to what Dunn writes next. So, this earns a four out of five from me.

 

I am so late getting this posted, but I can at least get it up on a day that isn’t stepping on any of the other stop’s toes. As ever, you should give them a check because each stop has something different to offer on the tour. This one’s thanks to David E. Dresner. Enjoy!

The Blighted Fortress cover

A Day in the Life of an Author

In writing this I came to think of myself as Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. My days tend to follow each other like soldiers in a line.

Most of us are creatures of habit no matter how spontaneous we think we are. The best we can hope for is that we have more good habits than bad. I am definitely a creature of habit.

The serious habits got ingrained in me after graduate school. College and grad school permitted flexibility each day. Who didn’t cut a boring class to sleep late? Eating was fun and casual and done on an ‘as needed’ basis. Beer and pizza trumped the veggies most of the time.

My life habits changed dramatically after I decided to become an actuary. I was working full time at a consulting firm and had to find study time for the rigorous math exams. My everyday routine required getting up at 6 am to be in the office by 6:30 for two hours of study before work started.

Weekends followed the same timetable but with longer study hours.  After I passed the actuarial exams I found business required even more time. I was in the office every day by 7.

When I hit age thirty-three I made a big mistake. I got on the scales. My college swim weight of 165 pounds now started with the number 2. I refused to view the next two digits knowing it did not come from greater muscle mass. I became a late evening waddler, then jogger, and finally a runner.

With these habits fixed early in my adult life I am still locked into them. Here’s a typical day.

Every day starts around 7:30 with a real breakfast including fruit and a cup of Joe to get awake. No longer am I up at 6. It takes longer to get the various body motors up and running these days, but so what.

After breakfast it’s time to check all the email stuff and the news. The news is always bad news and I get rushes of adrenaline to jolt me into the day.

Now fully awake I head out for an hour’s fast-paced hike in the countryside. My knees can’t take the pounding of running but I hike 3-5 miles every day. I add weights three times a week to the exercise routine.

Back home I cool off, check the mail again, shower and start to write on the current series book. I find that I’m productive between two, but rarely more than, three hours a day. Somebody throws a switch in my brain and I’m done.

A lot of my writing time happens after I finish a first draft. The first draft takes maybe 5 months to complete the whole story. Then months of rewrites start. The final review, prior to submission, is grammar, punctuation, and story line editing. My wife Nancy does the heavy lifting on grammar and punctuation and is comfortable giving me critical feedback on the story.

After the day’s writing is over, all the other stuff required to be alive such as paying bills gets taken care of. Finally, I enjoy my friends and this is fun time for us to socialize. Dinner is typically early, either late afternoon or early evening.

My free time starts around 7. I enjoy consuming junk entertainment on TV. I watch a wide variety of movies and certain series. One favorite series is Supernatural. Once in bed I read until Morpheus shuts me down. I sleep extremely well, lucky me.

The next day starts over again. I can almost hear Sonny and Cher singing, “Put your little hand in mind…I’ve got you babe.”

David E Dresner author picture

David E. Dresner was born and raised in rural Ohio. He was an Eagle Scout and later high school president in both his junior and senior years. The social mores, the friendships, and the rivalries of his youth were character building and era defining and have stayed with him into adulthood. Dresner studied physics and mathematics at Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon, earning a B.S. and M.S, before training to become an actuary. Dresner enjoyed considerable professional success, working at major business consultancy firms at CEO and COO level before taking early retirement and starting a family. He has since dedicated himself to giving back to his community, supporting small businesses, churches and schools by developing their strategic plans, as well as tutoring children in core academic studies. Having travelled extensively and lived in France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, today David and his wife Nancy live in a rural part of Virginia, near Charlottesville. He is currently working on the fourth instalment of The Allies of Theo series; he will publish his third novel in 2020.

The Blighted Fortress Banner

Guest Post Kathy Clark

So, I’ve got a guest post for you all. Kathy Clark is one half of Bob Kat, the writing team for Not My Life, and she’s got a bit about how they decided to do a time travel series.

NOT MY LIFE, the 5th book in the Time Shifters YA time travel/romance/mystery series will be released on October 18th.  Nothing is as it seems and everyone has a story that needs to be heard.  Our teens travel back to either vindicate or convict their old friend, Dan Denucci.  But the man with a medical degree, a beautiful wife, and a young son is very different from the sad, homeless guy who lives under the pier on Fort Myers Beach, FL.  Who is the real Dan and what did he do to lose everything?

 

Of all the concepts (or tropes), I think time travel would be the most amazing adventure.  You can have the trips to Mars or an excursion down to the Titanic.  Give me a trip to the late 1800s any day to see what the Old West was really like.  Or the early 1800s in Ireland before my family left to come to the U.S.  Or even back to the 1960s just because I love the Beatles.  The hardest part of the trip would be deciding where and when to go first.

 

Where would you go if you could travel back in time?  Who would you want to meet?  What historical event would you like to witness?  What era’s pop culture, fashion and music would you like to experience?

 

That was the idea that sparked our Young Adult series TIME SHIFTERS.  How would it be for four teenagers to be able to go back and see how average people lived, and, along the way, experience the feelings and textures of different times and places?  What kind of challenge would it be for them to do without things they thought they couldn’t live without while having to deal with issues (such as no electricity, different currency, and child labor) that they’ve never thought about?

 

Bob and I have had over forty books published (as Kathy Clark and as Bob Kat), but most were written for adults…about adults.  Writing a YA presented new outlooks on everything from friendship to romance to problem solving.  Obviously, a sixteen-year-old is going to react differently to almost everything than an adult would.

 

And even though dragons and witches and vampires are very popular, we wanted our teens to be real.  No magic spells or mythical creatures save them.  Instead, they have to deal with their issues using only their own ingenuity, creativity, and the friendship they share.  Plus, we wanted our young readers to “accidentally” learn a little about history and what was normal back then as compared to now.

 

My favorite books when I was growing up were Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew mysteries, as well as Agatha Christie and Mary Stewart.  We wanted our teenagers to be 21st Century versions of the very interesting and intelligent characters from those famous novels.

 

Having never written a book with lead characters under the age of twenty-one, we were a little nervous about capturing the innocence, insecurities, and youthful logic of teenagers.  But the four characters we created became so real to us that we easily slipped into their heads and their hearts.  Their vulnerabilities and dreams are so pure and yet heart-breaking as they discover the cruelties of the real world.

 

Basically, this series allows Bob and me to do a little time travelling, too, as we go back to the memories of our own teenage years and hang out with our four new friends, Kelly, Austin, Scott, and Zoey as they learn how to love and live and survive in a world that’s not always kind.

 

Come along.  Whether you’re twelve or ninety-two, you’ll enjoy the trip.

 

Visit us at our website www.LoveRealityRomance.com or write us at Kathy@Nightwriter93.com.  We would love to hear where and when you think our teenagers should travel to in the next book.  Reviews are always appreciated.

 

 

Bob Kat loves to hear from their fans.  Write us at TheThrillOfSuspense@gmail.com and tell us where you’d like to have Kelly, Scott, Austin and Zoey travel to next.

Alright everybody, I’ve got  another giveaway for you courtesy of authors Bob Kat! It’s for the fifth book in their Time Shifters series, Not My Life.

In Not My Life our time traveling heroes will have to find what happened to their friend Dan Denucci to take him from a man with a medical degree, beautiful wife, and a son to the sad homeless man living under the pier.

So, your question to enter, if you could travel back in time what would you do with that power? A follow up question if you feel like getting into it, would you assume a stable time line or a changeable one?

Standard rules apply here. You’ll need to follow the blog and the comment on this post answering the entry question. The contest runs from the time of posting until next Friday the 28th and the winner will be selected using random.com.

Separate from that, the authors also have a giveaway of their own going on to celebrate the book’s release, I’ll use their words to tell you all about it.

To celebrate the launch of NOT MY LIFE, we’re giving away a very special heart-shaped mother-of-pearl shell necklace.  (The photo doesn’t do it justice.)  It is 18” long.  All you have to do is send us an email at Kathy@nightwriter93.com with your name, email address, and the words SHELL NECKLACE.  You will be entered into the drawing that will be held on December 1, 2016.  The winner will be notified by email.

not-my-life-necklace

I swear that there was a Halloween post, I swear that it went up and I saw it being all postedy and then it was gone the next day.

On a more positive note, Fifties Chix book one Travel to Tomorrow was released on the first from FastPencil.  This was one of my favorite first books in a new series so far this year and I look forward to the rest of the series when it comes.  So check it out, there’s a ton of nifty stuff on the website and you won’t have to wait too long for the next book.

Hello all, long time no review.  Classes have been doing their level best to eat my life, but who doesn’t feel that way.  Fall Break is coming up and I could use a nap.  Something, something, comic books on Wednesday, something, tired joke, something, Necronomicon, also that the Deadworld giveaway ends at midnight tonight.  Winners should be announced sometime tomorrow, Thursday at the latest.

Angela Sage Larsen’s Fifties Chix: Travel to Tomorrow appealed to me for two reasons when I first heard of it: history and time travel.  I wasn’t really sure if it would pull either off well given the amount of research needed for one and issues that tend to pop up in the other, but I was beyond pleasantly surprised.  The characters don’t magically know modern slang and continue talking like something from I Love Lucy throughout the book.  They aren’t just dumped into the future to fend for themselves.  Their families and classmates are still there, just different.  The book shows the characters trying to deal with life fifty-five years in the future and figure out how they got there in the first place.  It shows problems that they have and frames of reference that they’re missing.  Maxine gets an excellent moment with her family, specifically her cousin, because she was raised during the civil rights movement.  Stuff like that serves to illustrate the social differences of the times without dropping too many anvils.  Ann and Mary each get thrown for a loop at their families’ lack of religion in the future.

My only big issue with Travel to Tomorrow is that it’s obviously the first in a series and ends with a massive hook for the rest of the books.  I get that the hook is supposed to keep me interested in the series until the next one comes out but it also takes me out of the story with one big jolt; kind of like if half way through the book Maxine had started using modern slang or Bev just stopped being into sports for no reason.  My only other problem was with some of the handwriting used for the journal sections, and that was only because I’m terrible at reading cursive.

I enjoyed Travel to Tomorrow immensely.  It was definitely written to a younger audience but managed to mostly avert writing down to them.  It made my inner history nerd practically dance.  That said, it loses points for the obvious hook.  I dislike it when something big is confirmed and then I have to wait for the next book.  So, what’s the verdict?  I’m giving Travel to Tomorrow a four out of five.  I’m also making note of some of the phrases in the last chapter/glossary to use in messing with my friends.