March 21, 2015

Robert Schell: "The Foster Children of Time"

Title: The Foster Children of Time  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Temporal Affairs (1st of 3 books)
Author: Robert Schell [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Time Travel, Fantasy, Comedy
Year: 2014
Age: 12 +
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Well written and well researched. The time travel aspect is fresh and interesting. Fantasy and science blend nicely.
Cons: Could have gone deeper with main characters and given a better sense of their friendship. Also, some things seem to happen a bit too hurriedly.
Will appeal to: Those who like time travel aimed at the past. Those who are in for a mix of historical and fantasy.

Blurb: One day while on a family outing at the beach, Texas teen Tony Marco happens upon a group of time tourists from the year 2088. Unsure of what to do, Tony reconnects with his more adventurous, estranged childhood friend Caroline Montano, who impulsively crashes the tour, dragging Tony along with her. Tony and Caroline soon find themselves on a black hole-powered portal to various exotic eras in Earth’s past, where they encounter Stephen Gaudet, an independent time scout who promises to take them home, free from the oversight of the time travel governing authority, Temporal Affairs. Instead, Gaudet kidnaps Tony and Caroline and transports them to a twisted fantasy kingdom in the 11th Century A.D., where they encounter a quirky cast of characters. Relying only upon their own wits and with help from their newfound friends, Tony and Caroline discover that one does not have to be a legendary monster slayer or great warrior to face off against Giants and Dragons. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. As a matter of fact, I connected with him via the Young Adult Fiction for Adults group on Goodreads, and asked for the chance to read his book. This didn't influence my rating in any way.
The first thing you need to know about TFCOT is that it's a self-published book. The second is that it's a well written self-published book.
This needs to be emphasized, for no other reason that the cruel stigma attached to indie/self-pub books: bad editing, worse delivery. Which may be true sometimes, maybe even most of the times, but not necessarily true.
I did notice a handful of typos in this book...but they were genuine typos, like missing quotation marks or a name with a different letter. I also noticed that "anyways" was used freely, but only in informal speech. All the rest was, I think, flawless writing, the type that shuns lazy words without going for pretentious ones. It was refreshing to be reminded of the many alternatives to the unimaginative "she said, he said" :).
Tony and Caroline find themselves in the middle of a bizarre, peculiar adventure. Instead of merely ending up in the past (though they indeed do that), the two friends are cast into a twisted version of it, which still retains/relies on elements of our present, like computers and genetics. Those are revealed a little at a time, or mostly uncovered by the duo (especially by Tony, who apparently has a curious, enquiring mind). History is woven into the tapestry of their adventure, but there are other forces at play, like what appears to be a touch of real magic. The historical events are thoroughly researched (the notes at the end of the book testify just that), but at the same time, profitably used as a background to a fun fantasy ride. [...]

March 10, 2015

5 Reasons Why Twitter Is not Evil and 5 Tips for Making the Best Out of It


So, my darlings...as you may have noticed, three weeks ago (Feb. 17) I took the plunge and joined Twitter, creating the account @offbeatya. You probably all know I've always been extremely wary of social networks, for a ton of reasons. Anyway, they seem like a requirement for a self-respectable book blogger. Most publicists will never take your blog into account if you're not on Facebook or Twitter - even if it had a million followers (well, in that case, maybe, LOL. But even a couple of hundreds or three might probably mean nothing to them if you have no social media handle). So...I opted for Twitter, because:
  1. it seemed the most book-blogger friendly;
  2. it also seemed the right place for someone who didn't have many friends to begin with;
  3. I loathe Facebook with a passion ;P.
Yes, dear friends who have a FB account. No offence meant :). But I had a brief taste of it years ago, with a page in Italian, and bailed after a month or two. In my experience (and everyone's is different of course) there was zero interaction, zero feeling, zero interest in what other people had to say. It may be due to the fact that those who are not your friends will never read what you write, unless someone points it out to them. Or it may be due to the format, because you can write I-don't-know-how-long posts and pontify and feel like a philosopher who doesn't need to read what the rest of the world writes. Anyway, I felt so utterly alone on there.

Now, Twitter. In my extremely brief experience with it, I've already spotted 5 points in its favour - some of them unexpected...

[Original image source]