{Blog Tour} Review + Guest Post: Keeper of the Black Stones by P.T. McHugh

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Today, on my stop on the Keeper of the Black Stones blog tour, I have my glowing review, a guest post about one of my favorite characters and a sneak peek from the sequel!!! GAAAHH, you know guys that I love time travel but this book. THIS BOOK! Stick around for all the awesomeness!

Keeper of the Black Stones
Title: Keeper of the Black Stones (Stone Ends #1)
Author: P.T. McHugh
Date of Publication: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Glass House Press

Awkward in his own skin, shy around girls and worried about anything and everything, Jason Evans is just like a million other teenage boys in high school, with one very large exception: he has been given a gift that allows him to jump through time. A set of stones has fallen into his lap that gives him access to any place - and any time - that he chooses. But along with that gift comes the responsibility of stopping the man who is using those very stones to travel through time and change history for his own purposes. A man who is now holding Jason's grandfather hostage, and threatening the world's very existence. Jumping through time with his best friend and body guard, Jason must enter the world of Medieval England, learn its customs, navigate unimaginable danger, and help Henry VII win the Battle of Bosworth, in the name of finding his grandfather, rescuing a beautiful girl from the clutches of a corrupt church, and destroying the one man who pledges to turn history inside out.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Carrie of Glass House Press for the review copy! This in no way affected my views of the novel!

So let's get this out of the way. Though it might not be obvious since I'm way behind my reading, I'm a time travel junkie. In films and especially in novels. I just love that premise so much. Whether it's heavy on the science or more grounded into contemporary, give me anything with a time traveler and I'll devour it like coffee jelly. FYI, I love coffee jelly. And Keeper of the Black Stones is now another book on my list of awesome time travel books.

Keeper of the Black Stones is an ADVENTURE. Jason Evans, turning fifteen soon, discovers his grandfather's journal chronicling his travels back in time. At first, he thinks his grandfather's insane but when he hears him talk about it to an old friend who's in with the knowledge. He then follows him back in time along with his best friend Paul, his recently hired bodyguard Reis and the daughter of the man who threatens his grandpa's life Tatiana. They travel back to Old England, to Richard III and Henry Tudor's time. Tatiana's dad, Nicholas Fleming in the present and Lord Dresden in the past, plans to alter history to gain power. It is now in Jason and his gang's hands to stop him and save the world.

WHAT AN AWESOME PREMISE, RIGHT? Surely, it's standard time travel fare but Patrick's writing really drove this a notch higher. It was fast-paced, gripping and thrilling. I was flipping pages as fast as my eyes can read and as excited as a kid opening his Christmas gifts. It actually seems a little bit of a middle grade novel for me because of how much action and adventure the author has squeezed in it. Yet it didn't feel forced or anything. It was just so damn good. There wasn't much of a romance in YET but I do believe that will be tackled in the next book THAT I CANNOT WAIT FOR.

The characters were such a delight to read! Jason's socially awkward but really smart. Really smart and logical and JUST PLAIN AMAZEBOMB. His best friend, Paul, is even more socially inept than him. But he's smart too. And Paul was funny! I compare him to Chuckie of Rugrats as he's the scaredy cat and he's the one with all the remarks but he's also brings in the laughs. Then Doc, Jason's grandpa, was cool and righteous and just great. Reis, oh Reis. Reis is Jason's bodyguard and HE'S BADASS. He's ex-Special Forces and his keen observations and intense survival instincts are so amazing to read. And the way he shuts up the kids when they get whiny or sluggish and yet he's not full of pride to follow Jason's lead. Lastly, Tatiana, Tae Kwon Do extraordinaire and a girl you won't mess up with. She and Paul sometimes butt heads which then cracks me up. I love how passionate she is and how she doesn't take no for an answer and fights for what she thinks is right. Especially when she's right. There are more characters in here who were all a delight to read. Seriously. Not only did I highly enjoy the action in this one, I had such a fun time reading the characters' interactions and dialogues.

Moreover, multiple perspectives! The novel was mostly told in Jason's POV but Doc also tells the story and sometimes, the perspective shifts to random people in the story. While I do love novels told in several views, I kinda found this one a bit confusing at first. It just takes some time to get used to the jumps in perspectives but once you know all the characters and all the settings, it's a breezy read.

To add to the middle grade novel feel, except Jason's POV, most of them are told in the third person point of view. So there's that shift which might confuse others. But for me, it worked really well. Because not only did the change in storyteller or perspective livened up the novel, it also paved the way for the readers to see what's going on in real time. We see Jason's journey to the past, meanwhile, Doc is suffering under the hands of Dresden. We see how Jason sees everyone and we see how Reis sees him or how Katherine sees him. Though sometimes, it makes the storytelling a bit passive. But when Patrick pours on the action, it's goes all octane on us. IT'S GREAT.

Anyway, I have nothing but applause and praises for this novel so it's pretty obvious that I highly recommend it to lovers of the time travel genre and of the middle grade category with its adventures. With an action-packed adventure back to fifteenth century England and with an ensemble of characters you will love and crave for more, Keeper of the Black Stones is certainly a keeper in the YA time travel landscape. I absolutely cannot freaking wait for A Rebel's Stone!

Guest Post

Here are ten things you don't know about Reis! I love Reis! He's badass but with a heart of gold and a kind demeanor. But he can turn on the glare if you cross him.

Ten things you didn’t know about Reis … 

1. He grew up bouncing from foster home to foster home. His mother died when he was four, he never knew his father, and he had no other relatives to speak of, leaving him completely alone in the world. The foster homes weren’t wonderful, but Reis never experienced any of the nightmare stories you so often hear. He also never found anyone to truly accept him for himself. He got in some trouble with the law when he was young, but nothing serious. He never went out of his way to cause trouble, but he never went out of his way to avoid it, either. His high school principal took him in his sophomore year under the foster plan system, and Reis credits that man with saving him from an early death or prison. 

2. He was studying to be an engineer in college, but dropped out in his junior year so he could enlist in the Army. He figured he didn’t need a college degree to use a gun, and realized that it was more important to him to defend his country than build fancy buildings.

3. Reis has a genius IQ, but doesn’t much like it when people discuss it. He doesn’t like people to think he’s too smart. He’d rather they think about what kind of gun he’s holding to their head.

4. He made All State in football his senior year of high school (quarterback), and had a scholarship offer to Michigan. He turned it down. Reis has never liked the limelight, and he certainly doesn’t want millions of cheering people to know his name or what he looks like. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to work under cover if everyone knew his name? He doesn’t even show up to the awards ceremonies with the president, because he’s afraid someone will take a picture of him.

5. Reis’ favorite snack is lemons with salt, chased by chocolate milk. It sounds crazy, but he’s liked it since he was a kid. He thinks that if he ever meets a woman who likes it as much as he does, he’ll probably have found his soul mate.

6. After six years in the Army (two of which he served with the Rangers), Reis was invited to join DELTA, the Army’s equivalent to the Navy Seals. He served four years with them before he left and started working for himself.

7. Reis has never been in love. His childhood didn’t teach him about love, and he’s never gone out of his way to seek it. Although he’s dated a lot of girls, he’s never taken them seriously, and can’t imagine a woman ever dealing with his lifestyle. Again, though, if he found a woman who liked lemons with salt and knew how to handle a semi-automatic without shooting herself in the foot…

8. Reis is absolutely terrified of snakes. This is one of his biggest weaknesses, and became a running joke on his Rangers team. 

9. Reis’ favorite movie character is Indiana Jones. Partially because Indie is also afraid of snakes, and partially because Reis likes to think that he looks like Harrison Ford on his better days.

10. One of Reis’ jobs before Jason and Doc was guarding a young girl, who became very attached to him. He lived with her for twenty-four-hour protection, and spent much of his time reading her fairy tales and helping her pick out the best pink nail polish. Few jobs have made him happier.

Sneak Peek

And here's a sneak peek from the sequel, A Rebel's Stone. AAAAAAAAAAAAA CANNOT WAIT!

Have you ever had a dream so real that when you woke up, for one brief moment, you weren’t sure where your imagination stopped and reality began? Where you forgot who you were and how you got there, and had trouble remembering even your own name?

I only ask, really, because that’s been happening to me a lot lately.

I realize this sounds crazy, but it’s not too hard to imagine when you think about what I’ve seen over the past few weeks. God, has it only been that long?

I guess I should probably start at the beginning, for this to make any sense at all. Months ago, John Fleming, an old friend of my grandfather’s, introduced him to an archeological discovery. A large stone, which looked more like a kitchen counter than the find of the millennium. His son had found it on an archaeological dig, and taken it to Dartmouth College to unravel its secret.

Fleming showed the stone to my grandfather – Doc to me – because he was a mathematician. See, the stone had hundreds of symbols engraved on its surface, and Fleming thought he’d be able to read them. In the end, of course, he did a lot more than that. He deciphered their meaning, yes. And then he listened to their instructions. Turned out the stone wasn’t just a dusty old relic carved out of granite by an ancient civilization. Or rather, it was, but it was also something a lot more. A portal, capable of doing the impossible. Capable of transporting someone back in time, into the very history of our books and stories. And it wasn’t the only one.

Allowing that journey, of course, means allowing us access to that history, and the people that made it. And that, my friends, is the crux of the problem.

My grandfather recognized immediately how dangerous the stone was. He knew that going back in time would endanger history, and the fate of the world itself. Unfortunately, Nicholas Fleming, John’s son, looked past the danger and saw the fame and fortune that such a discovery would bring. Unwilling to listen to my grandfather’s warning, Nicholas armed himself with a weapon and his twenty-first-century knowledge, climbed onto the stone, and went merrily back to Old England, to reappear some five hundred years before I was born.   

My grandfather, with his ability to read the stones, identified Nicholas’ destination and went after him. His plan was to bring the man home, to safety, but that goal was quickly overshadowed by what Nicholas was doing. Because within days of finding him, Doc realized that Nicholas’ ambition had gone far beyond money and glory. He had decided to reshape history to his liking, starting with the War of the Roses. And in changing history – for reasons that still escape us – he was putting the entire world in danger. He had to be stopped.

You might be asking yourself how I got involved in all of this. Devine intervention, coincidence, bad luck? Well, that’s the million-dollar question that keeps me up at night. And I still don’t have a good answer. Not one that would make sense to anyone other than myself. The simple truth is that I also have the ability to read the stones. And I can do it better than my grandfather. I can travel back in time, yes, but I can also do more. Somehow, and I know how crazy this sounds, I can talk to the stones. Learn from them. Use them as the tools they actually are. And it’s all with one goal in mind: to preserve our past. To maintain history and, with it, the thread of time, and the world around us.

How do we do that? I have no idea. But I can say with a bit of pride that we’ve already started. Doc and I, with the help of my friends, Tatiana, Paul, and Katherine, and my recently acquired body guard Reis, defeated Richard III at the battle of Bosworth, despite Fleming taking his side, and thus helped to close the door on the Dark Ages. We stopped Nicholas Fleming from throwing the world off balance by changing the outcome of that one important war. So we’ve already started our fight for history and the world.

Unfortunately, Nicholas Fleming, now known as Dresden, escaped. Doc believes that Dresden has no true relationship with the stones, and therefore can’t predict their line of travel. Based on that, he thinks that Dresden’s last trip on the stones must have ended up at the bottom of the English Channel, or atop Mount Everest under several feet of snow. He doesn’t believe that Dresden survived his escape. He thinks that we’re safe, now that Dresden has disappeared.

But I know differently. I know what I saw when Dresden escaped, and the stone he was on made sure I understood. In reality, Dresden was sent to Germany in the year of 1939, right when the Nazis were coming to power. He didn’t know where he was going, but I’m sure he made it there safely. And I have to find him. No matter how much Doc tries to convince me otherwise, the stones don’t lie. Dresden is still out there, somewhere. And I have to find him and stop him, before he does anything else to damage history.

Because the world won’t be safe until I do.

Jason Evans

Keeper of the Black Stones

About P.T. McHugh

PT McHugh didn’t start out as a storyteller. He was, however, born into a family that encouraged imagination. He became a fan of history in school and then went to college to become a construction engineer, to build a world of straight lines, angles, and equations.

He was just as surprised as everyone else when he realized that he believed in magic, and might just know the secret of how to jump through time. Since then, he’s been researching the possibility and learning everything he can about history. Just in case the opportunity arises.

PT was born and raised in New Hampshire and currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife, two daughters, and a dog named Bob, daring to dream of alternate worlds and cheering for his beloved New England Patriots.

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