Book Review | “Time and Again” (Book 1: History #Mystery series) by Deborah Heal #RRSciFiMonth

Posted Saturday, 24 January, 2015 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Time and Again by Deborah Heal

{ Book One in the History Mystery Trilogy }

{ Unclaimed Legacy (Book 2) + Every Hill & Mountain (Book 3) round out the trilogy }

Published By: Write Brain Activity
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook and Audiobook

Converse via: #HistoryMysterySeries & #TimeAndAgain

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Acquired Book By:

My path originally crossed with Ms. Heal during her blog tour last year (2013), when her third novel in the History Mystery series was making it’s way through the book blogosphere whilst stopping on Inspirational fiction blogs I frequently visit. It was on one of these tour stops I had the happy joy in winning a copy of “Every Hill & Mountain” and ever since then, I had had it in mind to blog about this beautiful time travel series for Sci Fi November! I contacted the author about this particular idea and she offered to send me the first two novels in the series with matching cover-art to the third novel, as I have the original cover-art designs for the History Mystery series – where the house is featured but is not prominent as there is a girl featured as well on “Time and Again”.

Therefore, I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Deborah Heal, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read the Series:

What originally drew me into the folds of this particular time travel series is the overall premise, of how an old house can become a portal of a window into time travel! The idea of having the thread of a time travel narrative worked through the Inspirational side of literature was also an appeal, as I was quite curious how the science behind travelling in time might be explored and explained inasmuch as how the story would alter or change from traditional science fiction roots which are published through mainstream markets. As a hybrid reader whose mind is always open and seeking out new inventive ways of telling stories, I was most curious on how an INSPY writer would treat the scope of the story as much as the science behind it.

Book Review | “Time and Again” (Book 1: History #Mystery series) by Deborah Heal #RRSciFiMonthTime and Again
by Deborah Heal
Source: Direct from Author

An old house + A new computer program =

The travel opportunity of a lifetime…

…to another century.

Abby Thomas is spending the summer in a run-down old house with a bratty pre-teen named Merrideth she is supposed to tutor. Not a dream job. But it does come with perks.

There’s John Roberts, a devastatingly attractive neighbor who is almost too wonderful to be real.

And there’s the new computer program Beautiful Houses—also too amazing to be real. No one knows how it works, but with it she can rewind and fast-forward the lives of all the people who ever lived in the house, including Charlotte Miles.

In 1858, the house is a train stop on the Alton & Chicago Line. And Charlotte is stuck there serving meals to the passengers, wondering if she’ll ever get to have any fun. And then she meets two travelers who change her life forever.

There’s James McGuire with whom she falls in love. And there’s his boss, a young Springfield lawyer named Abraham Lincoln. His debate with political opponent Stephen Douglas catapults him onto the national stage. And it inspires Charlotte to take up the cause of abolition.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Series: History Mystery,


Genres: Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Time Travel Fiction


Published by Write Brain Activity

Format: Paperback

Time and Again Book Trailer via Deborah Heal

About Deborah Heal

Deborah Heal

Deborah Heal, the author of the Time and Again "history mystery" trilogy, which has been described as "Back to the Future meets virtual reality with a dash of Seventh Heaven thrown in," was born not far from the setting of her novel Every Hill and Mountain and grew up just down the road from the settings of Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy.

Today she lives with her husband in Monroe County, Illinois, not far from the setting of Once Again: an inspirational novel of history, mystery & romance. She enjoys reading, gardening, and learning about regional history. She has three grown children, five grandchildren, and two canine buddies Digger and Scout, a.k.a. Dr. Bob in Unclaimed Legacy.

She loves to interact with her readers, who may learn more about the history behind the books at her website and her Facebook author page.

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Time travelling within the walls of an older home:

Heal has a good way of giving small details out about the condition of the old house, where you become delighted in finding out about how the wood and/or the fixtures are represented now verse how they would have been viewed when the house was originally built. There are certain passages that elude to the craftmanship of the care put into it’s structure, as much as a curiosity about certain staircases and what could be found outside in the barn. It has this rambling appeal to it, as if you think you know everything there is to be known about the house itself, yet it is within that moment of certainty that another mystery presents itself that is not as easily explained!

I liked the pace of how Abby encouraged Merrideth to seek out the charm of her new dwelling as much as to find how educational lessons of life and study can become if you ‘think outside the routine’ and ‘structure’ of traditional learning! Abby starts to seek a way to have the ‘house’ transform learning in a way that Merrideth can find tangible connections between what she’s learning and what she can see through experience.

My Review of Time and Again:

Abby’s path towards arriving at the old house on Miles Station Road was quite a clever choice on her part, as she is required to fulfill a college service project wherein she helps someone in need. Confident in her choices between what she would enjoy verse what she might not be able to contribute towards as a team player, she accepts a position as a tutor to a child in need of an encourager of hope as much as a tutor to guide her through her lessons. The hardest part of Abby’s assignment was the charge herself Merrideth was a bit atypical for youth, as she was a bit hard around the edges and without any joy for the moment in which she was living. A curious brow flickered on my own forehead when she was dissatisfied with lasagna as a dinner option but it was her tendency to push off and away from those within her everyday sphere that clued myself and Abby into what was really troubling Merrideth.

Her Mom yanked her out of Chicago, dropping her in a small towne where there was nothing to do but strive not to be caught up in the monotony of the days whilst avoiding thinking about how close you were to St. Louis. For a girl like Merrideth who was a devout Cubs fan, being a whisper of a wink away from the hometown of the Cardinals was a sin in of itself.

Abby and Merrideth have a bit of a friction laced relationship in the beginning of Time and Again, as Merrideth doesn’t see the benefit of Abby being in her life; more thorn in her side than Governess! For Abby being Merrideth’s Summer Tutor is a way back into the good graces of her Professor and a continuation of how she can move forward in her studies whilst gaining experience for her future career as a teacher. The difficulties alight as Abby goes into being around Merrideth a bit blind, as Pat (Merrideth’s mother) doesn’t quite express the main roots of what is angering her daughter, nor does she give Abby much leeway to explore how to approach the hours of lessons outside a strict focus on the lessons themselves. Some children can thrive under a tight routine, but others thrive more when the lessons are hidden within experiences outside the classroom.

Quite cleverly, Heal starts to knit little antidotes of Miles Station — the towne that no longer has much of a trace inside their contemporary lives, but whose legacy is left behind in the buildings and remnants of historical data, stories, and even a map! I personally love maps! The kind you get to read about and the kinds that are included in the front of novels! Maps have a beautiful way of giving you a proper overview of a certain place, and the map inside this story proves to be quite pivotal to understand what can no longer been seen; but felt!

I appreciated the quirky characters who light up the story with their eccentrics as they give a humbling insight into how everyone has a neighbourhood full of personalties that are as different as night and day; yet those are the people who tend to look out for you! They might also be the ones who know a fair amount of local lore! The nature of the setting is happily explored, for those (like me!) who enjoy seeing how nature’s beauty can be a calming companion and a backdrop to the curiosities Abby and Merrideth are uncovering! Nature has a way of stablising time; the one constant you can rely on to gather your bearings as much as uplift your joys.

The computer inside this novel is not like most computers! This computer is self-aware and reminds me a bit of the ‘computer house’ featured in “Smart House” a Disney Channel film! Computers and houses that know more than the homeowners and Governesses who live inside them is always a good set-up for folly! The way in which the computer is used a guide towards how perception and intuitive understanding can transform your life is a positive gem! Oft-times it is how we perceive a life being lived and how our lives are progressing forward is deceptive. To step back and change the way in which what is understood can be seen can lead to revelations that soften the edges that were misunderstood.

At first I thought Abby and Merrideth were transporting themselves physically through time, but part of me felt they might have teleported through astral projection instead; to be back in time in spirit rather than in physicality. To experience everything as though they were walking alongside Charlotte and her father, but without having left their own time. It is a curious angle to explore, as it is the same angle that gave me the most interest in the tv series Quantum Leap! You can have a strong impression of what is happening to someone else, yet you haven’t technically ‘left your time’ in order to ‘experience the linear time’ of the past. (linear time is the baseline for time in reality) The tricky part to astral projection is that the traveller has a very distinctive sensory awareness inside them to give them the reaction of ‘being elsewhere’ without actually lifting a foot! This is tricky to the traveller who might presume that what they ‘experienced’ hadn’t actually happened because where is the proof?

My favourite bits overall were the historical sequences, where Abby and Merrideth were observing what was happening in the past; to see the events unfolding at a time interval they could both agree on too! I loved how the computer had a ‘dial’ to set time to play ‘forward or backwards’ at a speed you felt was right for ‘eavesdropping’ on life in the 19th Century! Who doesn’t wish to ‘visit the past’ rather than merely ‘read about it’?!

On how Deborah Heal crafted an Inspirational Time Travel series: 

I liked how Heal etched into the background the INSPY bits to the story, where she showed how the tutor in the story would be conscience of her ‘checks’ with her faith and the way in which she wanted to live her life whilst honour her beliefs. There is a true balance between the inspirational bits of the story and the time travelling; especially considering that time travel in the History Mystery series is not a classical method nor one that is often explored! I loved how a bit of modern tech is needed to ‘advance’ yourself backwards whilst becoming further curious about the ‘history’ of where the story is set!

This isn’t a traditional science fiction novel, nor is it traditional INSPY; it is a bridge between both genres, as Heal sought out a new niche which combines the elements of both styles of the craft! Heal also managed to draw a story out of the history of Civil Rights and the age of the Underground Railroad. She kept it original by showing a new thread of how one family drew out courage to tackle a problem that did not have an easy resolution to fix.

Heal took a difficult period of history and gave it a life within the pages of Time and Again as to inspire the next generations to know the stories of those who struggled so much to be free as much as know about the people who worked with them towards their path of freedom. She handles a difficult subject quite well and honours the past by giving all her characters the flexibility to breathe. The historical note in the back of the novel explains a bit more of what gave her the inspiration to write the novel as much as the living history the novel is based upon. Included is a guide for further reading.

Fly in the Ointment:

The only bits that stood out to me were the instances where either the dialogue or the words used did not flow as easily together as they could have, such as the repetitive use of ‘kiddo’ towards the halfway to last quarter of the novel. I wasn’t sure why this became the ‘pet name’ for Abby to use for Merrideth but it felt a bit contrite after awhile because it was latched on to each of the verbal exchanges between the two. There were some minor errors in the copy edit areas but I overlooked them because most copy errors are not enough to warrant mentioning. As I have the original edition, I think these small infractions were already fixed in the second release featuring the new cover.

I mentioned this switch-out on Abby’s behalf because it felt as though her personality was spilt between who she is in the beginning to whom she was becoming in the latter half. She was not too typical for a college-aged tutor but when they started to move out of the house itself and explore the local area, it felt like Abby’s character and personality was starting to alter a bit. Abby’s character has a personality that alternates between both versions.

A few other times, it felt as though Merrideth’s age was older than eleven years, and other times she felt she was eleven. It’s a hard call to write children into stories, because sometimes you can get ahead of yourself with the age group itself. Overall, I must say, the best part is when Abby helped Merrideth grow a bit in her ability to achieve self-esteem and self-confidence, in a way that her mother had not yet realised to encourage.

There was one word on page 167 I realise is historically accurate but I would have preferred the other word to be used instead. It is too emotionally charged to be read or spoken aloud. It is my least favourite word next to a certain vulgar word other writers are so infamous for using in their stories. I read Southern Fiction quite a heap and realise why the word is referenced but I’d like to see novels excluding it; there are more than one way to express what you want to say or convey.

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This book review is courtesy of the author Deborah Heal:

Deborah Heal

This book review is a part of my contributions on behalf of:

SFN Book Review Badge created by Jorie in CanvaSFN 2014 Archive badge created by Jorie in Canva

whilst posting this during:
2015 Sci Fi Experience hosted by SteelDroppings
(“Space” by Stephan Martiniere, used with the artist’s permission)

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Reader Interactive Question:

What are your thoughts on bridging genres together that normally might stand apart? Do you read INSPY driven Speculative Fiction? And, if so, what are your favourite science fictional story elements you like seeing explored? Is time travel, time shifting, and time slip equal interest of yours as they are mine!?

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Time and Again”, book synopsis, author photograph of Deborah Heal and author biography were all provided by the author Deborah Heal and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. The book trailer for “Time and Again” via Deborah Heal had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 24 January, 2015 by jorielov in 19th Century, Abraham Lincoln, African-American History, African-American Literature, Astral Projection, Author Blog Tour, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Review (non-blog tour), Book Trailer, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Films, Bullies and the Bullied, Civil Rights, Coming-Of Age, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Divorce & Martial Strife, Drugs & Alcohol, Fathers and Daughters, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, History, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Lessons from Scripture, Parapsychological Gifts, Sci-Fi November, Single Mothers, Small Towne USA, Sweet Romance, Teacher & Student Relationships, The Deep South, The Sci-Fi Experience, Time Travel, Time Travel Adventure, Underground Railroad




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