Deborah Heal, the author of the Time and Again "history mystery" series, was born not far from the setting of her book Every Hill and Mountain and grew up “just down the road” from the setting of Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy. Today she lives with her husband in Monroe County, Illinois, where she enjoys reading, gardening, and learning about regional history. She has three grown children, three grandchildren (and another on the way), and two canine buddies Digger and Scout (a.k.a. Dr. Bob). She loves to interact with her readers, who may learn more about the history behind the books at her website and Facebook author page.
on Sep. 08, 2013 :
Once upon a time I used to read a lot of Christian fiction, I don’t anymore, for various reasons and I tend now to be extremely picky in what I do read. I’m fond of speculative fiction though, especially time travel books, so when I saw a Christian novel with time travel as a theme it caught my eye, and I decided to take the risk. As I discovered on closer inspection, this novel doesn’t actually feature time travel, more of a “time observation” or as the author puts it “time surfing”. But I was intrigued enough to give it a go anyway.
So what did I think? I have to say it was very different from anything I have ever read. I found Time and Again to be a very sweet story, with a gentle plot, a dash of speculation, some historical intrigue and a host of authentic and well developed characters.
Abby, the main character, is a sweet, though admittedly sheltered young Christian woman spending the summer tutoring Merrideth, an overweight neglected pre-teen falling behind in her school work. Merrideth is frosty to say the least at enduring a summer-long tutoring session with a stranger. She isn’t even intrigued by the old house that she and her mom have just moved into that seems to hold a number of secrets. Together Abby and Merrideth discover a window into the world of Charlotte, a young 19th woman, struggling with her own challenges in the years leading up to and during the American Civil War.
Characterisation is certainly Deborah Heal’s strong point, and the plot therefore is built around the characters (and there’s quite a little community of them), their relationships, development and growth. Perhaps this is the reason that I found the ending rather unexpected and abrupt. The plot did not follow the path of rising action, climax and denouement that I have come to expect, and so when the novel ended I was somewhat surprised that it was all over already. This simplicity of plot may bother some readers, but I overall I enjoyed a less intense storyline and more of a focus on some very likeable and genuine characters.
Were there any negatives? Just a few really. As likeable as Abby is, she really is so very sheltered, having never lived without air-conditioning and really having no clue about the issues Merrideth is dealing with. I was also a little shocked in the early parts of the story with the frequent remarks about Merrideth’s eating habits and weight issues. These may be a bit sensitive for readers dealing with their own similar issues. In places the novel became a little syrupy, and I found John, a young local teenager to be a little too good to be true. But for me, these were fairly minor quibbles that really didn’t impact on my enjoyment of Time and Again.
I would recommend Time and Again to young (and not so young) Christian women who enjoy reading historical or speculative fiction.
I received a free copy of Time and Again from the author for the purpose of review. I was not asked to give a positive review and my thoughts and observations on this novel are entirely my own.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Aug. 20, 2013 :
Time and Again: Charlotte of Miles Station by Deborah Heal
Time and Again Series Book 1
Abby Thomas needed to choose a summer service project. With teaching in her future she chose to tutor a young girl for the summer. Her excitement was not met in the same way. Young Merredith didn’t seem to care about anything. She didn’t take care of herself and Abby allowed her physical appearance and bad attitude to rule her opinion of Merredith as well. As Abby gets to know the girl she sees the underlying circumstances that have caused Merredith to be like she is. Such as moving from Chicago to this hick town of only a few homes, if you could even call it a town.
After meeting young Michael and Mrs Arnold, an older neighbor woman, an interest in what Miles Station use to be like opens up into an adventure. Especially when they discovered the home Merredith’s mother inherited belonged to the founder of the town, Colonel Jonathon Miles. When they realize they can see his daughter, Charlotte Miles, on a computer program, learning history becomes an exciting past time.
I found this to be an easy flowing book where the characters and town came to life. It was one of those books for me that was hard to put down, “just one more page” type books. It is so special to watch Merredith as she comes out of her shell and the friendship they give to Michael. The history they learn as they go back in time was put in such a way that I found myself sitting there ‘watching’ the Douglas/Lincoln debate, seeing the difference in the candidates clothing and speeches from the author’s description. Deborah’s writing brought out the emotions for me as well….whether a smile or tears. Much of the story was built on true facts. I’m looking forward to the next book, Unclaimed Legacy.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on May 24, 2013 :
Time and Again by author Deborah Heal is the story of Abby and Merrideth. Merri is a teen aged girl with parental And personal problems. Her parents are divorced, with her mother working hard to take care of herself and Merri. Abby is a college aged young woman who takes on the job as a tutor, as part of a service project to help Merri who's school work has deteriorated along with her family structure. At first things are difficult between the teacher and her student, but things begin to get very interesting with inter-actions with various neighbors and a very odd computer program on the household computer.
This book was written for young adults but readers of all ages will really like the story and the many real characters from the 1800's in the USA and Illinois in particular. Abraham Lincoln is one character that everyone will enjoy reading about. The underground railroad is brought to life with the telling of some stories from several characters whose stories were similar to real experiences from real people who took their lives and freedom into their own hands and into the hands of the people who helped them to go north.
I recommend this book to everyone, it really has something for everyone.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)