Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Legend of Team 9: An Away Science Fiction Book review and meet and greet with Norman Oro

The Legend of Team 9: An Away Science Fiction BookThe Legend of Team 9: An Away Science Fiction Book by Norman Oro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a part of the Away series. Dr. Jeremy Marshal joins forces with the legendary Team 9 to battle a foe once thought defeated by the searchers, but is now once again attacking the Allem field. Can Team 9 work with Legion to defeat Apaht before it is too late or will the Alliance fall into ruin?
I found the end of this book wonderful and well worth the wait. I would recommend this to anyone who likes science fiction or epic battles between good and evil. I would however suggest you read any previous books in this series first, as this book was a little hard to follow at first as a stand-alone novel.

**I received an ARC in return for an honest review**

I would like to welcome Norman Oro to my blog today.

1) What genre do you like to write? What draws you to that genre?

There are many cool genres, but I enjoy writing science fiction the most. In addition to the fact that I've always been into science and technology, I'm drawn to it because it's so unconstrained. Science fiction can accommodate many voices, ideas, styles and points of view.

2) How long have you been writing? What prompted you to start writing?

I've been a self-published author for almost three years. I began writing my first novel, Away (Volume 1: Beginnings), in January, 2011.

I was looking for consulting work at the time in finance and corporate development; and the job market was a bit sluggish. Ultimately, I saw the down-time as an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream. I loved science fiction growing up and always wanted to at least try writing a story myself, so I figured, "Why not?"

3) What inspires you to write?

It's difficult to describe. Although I'm Catholic like most Filipino-Americans, I also practice zazen. There's the notion within Zen of an archer holding a bow with an arrow in it and the bow drawn back. At some point, the archer just knows when to let go and let the arrow fly towards the target. Not to get too New Age-ish, but it really is kind of like that. When it feels like it's time to begin writing, I do.

4) When a story idea pops into your head, how long does it typically take to write it (from start to finish)? 

It varies considerably. My first book took a year (with a few months of hiatus in the middle) to get it into its final form. That first novel was a valuable learning experience. My latest book, The Legend of Team 9, took around six months. When I'm working on a book, I usually spend several hours a day on it, six days a week.

5) What do you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process?  Easiest?

The proofing and editing phase is the most difficult stage in the process for me. It can get tedious. However, in at least some respects, I also consider it the most important. The easiest part is the idea. The stories often seem to arrive almost fully-formed, just asking that I write them.

6) Of all your characters whom do you most relate to?

Great question. In my latest book, I probably relate most to Richard Redding and Dr. Marshall. I went to UCLA myself as an undergraduate like both those characters. Also, like them, I tend to be somewhat conservative and can be a bit of a workaholic sometimes.

7) Is there one of your characters that you did not like when you started writing about them, but found yourself liking by the end of the story?

Another great question. I like all of my characters at least a little, even the bad guys. Seydert Pine, one of the book's villains, is probably the one who grew most on me while writing The Legend of Team 9. As far as word-count goes, he doesn't get as much attention in the book as the other characters. Nevertheless, I consider him an important part of the story. Writing Seydert was a nice break from the good guy mindset and a bit of a guilty pleasure. Like many of the antagonists I've found to be most memorable, I tried to instill within him some sense of goodness, almost nobility. As an aside, writing Seydert gave me a greater appreciation for the heroes in my book and what separated them from guys like Seydert.

8) What is your least favorite part about writing? The Most?

Proofing and editing is the part I enjoy least and, therefore, the most difficult. I enjoy the very start and the very end of the process the most. At the very start, everything feels brand-new and anything seems possible. At the other end of the spectrum, once it's all done and you have the finished book in your hands, there's definitely a sense of accomplishment.

9) When you are not writing or editing what do you do for relaxation?

Outside of reading, I like learning languages. These days, I study mostly German and Spanish with a bit of Dutch. I listen to sports, mostly baseball, football and some hockey. I also follow and sometimes play volleyball. Weather permitting, I enjoy walking for recreation, as well as general fitness.

10) What types of books do you like to read? 

Lately, I've been reading mostly history books. I have a New Year's resolution to write an iPhone app, so I've also read a bit about programming languages, Objective C in particular. I still love science fiction, but haven't read a novel in a while; I usually see science fiction movies these days instead. Ironically, quite a few of them are adaptations of science fiction novels and comic books that I loved as a boy.

11) What author(s) do you enjoy reading?  Why?

Really difficult to choose. As far as science fiction authors whom I consider archetypal storytellers in the genre, I like Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert and Ray Bradbury. That list isn't by any means comprehensive.

I enjoyed reading them because their stories were compelling; and they brought worlds, civilizations and technologies to life in a way that made them believable.

12) Tell us about your books where can people find them?

I've written three books: Away (Volume 1: Beginnings), Away (Volume 2: Keepers of the Alliance) and The Legend of Team 9. I also have a fourth book out that's a compilation of Away (Volume 1: Beginnings) and Away (Volume 2: Keepers of the Alliance). All four are available in paperback through the CreateSpace eStore and through Amazon.com. E-book versions are also available through Amazon.

Thank you for preparing these interview questions and for reviewing my book, Sally

Photo provided by author and used with permition. 

An Ordinary Toad's Extraordinary Night by Joanne McGonagle Illustrated by Rachael Mahaffey

An Ordinary Toad's Extraordinary NightAn Ordinary Toad's Extraordinary Night by Joanne McGonagle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a delightful story about a little toad’s journey of self-discovery. Feeling ordinary and unimportant, a little toad embarks on a solo nocturnal hop to ask his grandfather what it is to be an amphibian. Along the way he learns that he might not be as ordinary as he thought.
I found this book very enjoyable the story and the illustrations are fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a cute little read or has the desire to learn more about the not so ordinary but really extraordinary toad.

**I received an ARC in return for an honest review**

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Blueberry Bubble Gum by Mahamad Ali EIFakir Illustrated by Victor Guiza

Blueberry Bubble GumBlueberry Bubble Gum by Mahamad Ali Elfakir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What could possibly go wrong when Max's dad gives him a bag of magical bubble gum? Max tries hard to resist its temptation until his dad can read him the instructions, but then his dad is called into work Max is sent to bed without even one taste. The smell of the gum is so overwhelming that Max has to try one. When his mother comes in to say goodnight she asks him if he broke his promise not to eat any gum. Max lies to her, and this causes the magical gum to sour in his stomach. What happens next is a bubble gum ride of a lifetime. On this journey Max learns some powerful life lessons about lying and breaking promises.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, to younger readers only. Here is why: when I first read this book something did not sit right with me, but I could not put my finger on it so I read it to my four children. My sons ages nine and seven really liked it, understood the moral of the story, and the bad guys reminded them of cartoon villains. My daughters, ages twelve and fourteen came to the same conclusion I did, something important was missing. We discussed it and figured out what it was. Max is missing a baseline. When some on takes a lie detector test the technician asks them questions they know are true, such as “is your hair brown” or “are your eyes blue”. They do this so they have a baseline to tell when the person is lying or not. In this book, the author just tells us that the boy is a chronic liar without giving any prior examples. This fact detracts from the rest of the story, in my opinion. If they want to reach a broader audience I would recommend that the author write a preface to the current book or a prequel that expands on the character's chronic lying habit, so the revelation that lying is not right is more profound at the end of this book. In conclusion this is a cute book with fantastic illustrations and a good moral lesson. Younger children will find it very enjoyable.

**I received an ARC in return for an honest review**

View all my reviews