Metaphonium honored with stellar 5-star reviews!

See how I did that? Stellar, 5 stars? Clever. I know, Proto didn’t laugh either. Here’s a few quotes from the wonderful reviews Metaphonium has received on Readers’ Favorite:

 

Reviewed By Sarah Scheele for Readers’ Favorite • 5 stars

Tom Hoffman is a delight to read. His world is endlessly complex, varied, and filled with flights of fancy, yet completely true and simple as well. The characters ring with a deep, supple humanity, and I was captivated, wanting to know what would happen next. Action, comedy, mystery, adventure, romance—it’s all here. Orville’s many little quirks make him thoroughly well-rounded, and the underlying theme that love and honesty can overcome fears was handled as melodiously as the concept of the piano-like Metaphonium, in which sets of keys provide portals to other worlds. Quiet sidekick Proto absolutely steals the show, his fears that he’s not loved and accepted threading a delicate subplot that is as poignant as it is satisfying. Verbally enchanting, emotionally human, and philosophically relevant, The Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium blends many genres into a really fun read.

Reviewed By Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite • 5 stars

In this fourth installment of a highly successful, award winning series, Tom Hoffman has produced in The Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium both a plot and a literal device that almost defy imagination. Except that imagination might verily be the name of the game itself. The last Metaphonium – the device – is one ingenious invention. Not your parents’ Sound Piano, nor your grandparents’ either; this one literally takes you to other worlds. And it is on the most important adventure quest of all – to locate a missing loved one – that Orville, his girlfriend, Sophia, and their personal protector, Proto, dare the prophesied terrors of a mysterious other-world in order to successfully complete (survive) their mission. Metaphysically replete with the wisdom, humor, adventure, unspoken love and oatmeal cookies that young and old have come to expect from Orville Mouse, The Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium satisfies all your cravings. Except for the oatmeal cookies. Those are incumbent upon yourself; unless, of course, you already happen to be a Shaper. Read the book!

Reviewed By Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite • 5 stars

Tom Hoffman’s young adult metaphysical adventure fantasy, Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium: Orville Wellington Mouse, Book 4, is a glorious romp through the fabled land of Elysian where anything you dream of or fear may very likely come true. I had the grandest time reading this enthralling adventure yarn which somehow makes quantum physics painless and perfectly understandable. Hoffman’s plot is lively and filled with twists and turns that keep both the characters and the reader on edge. His characters, especially Orville, Sophia and Proto, seem to come of age in this tale as they confront their own demons and greatest fears, and find their inner combined strengths to be prodigious indeed. While this book can be read and enjoyed on its own, I would most strongly recommend the new reader start with the first book in the series, but if you can’t resist, Hoffman does give enough background without giving any spoilers to ruin the experience of going back after this one. Best of all, there’s a definite sense in the air that there will be more puzzles for Orville to solve and that’s such a very good thing. Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium is Hoffman’s best fantasy novel yet, and it’s most highly recommended.

Reviewed By Angie Gallion Lovell for Readers’ Favorite • 5 stars

Tom Hoffman has written a great adventure. His characters are fully developed and endearing, with all their individual quirks and traits. Hoffman writes to a youthful audience (3rd-5th grade), and he writes with intelligence, drawing his readers forward, rather than relying on gimmicks so often employed for this age group. Hoffman offers a larger world to his readers, an expansion of their understanding of the possibilities. His word choices are precise and often chosen to increase his readers’ vocabulary by introducing a complex word, then developing the scene to provide context. Orville and his friends have to work as a team to solve the puzzle, each member of their party brought something unique to the table, and none of them could have done it alone. Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium has everything a young reader will enjoy, humor, great action sequences, believable dialogue, fantastic friendships, and a powerful message about facing our fears. This book was nicely done, Mr. Hoffman.

Reviewed By Liz Konkel for Readers’ Favorite • 5 stars

Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium by Tom Hoffman is the next Orville Mouse adventure that you won’t want to put down. When Orville wakes up from a dream, he discovers that he brought back a book with him in a language he can’t understand. Pulled into the book’s curious origins, Orville teams up with Proto and Sophia to find the mysterious land of Elysian. With the aid of pirates, the group embarks on a dangerous adventure that may be more than they bargain for.

The mystery reveals the magic of imagination and books as Orville, Proto, and Sophia go in search of the book’s origins. The fact that they’re talking animals is never an issue as they’re lively and realistic characters with vibrant personalities, fun banter, flaws, and strengths. They’re easy to connect with and adore. Orville has a playful personality and is full of imagination. The story starts from his dream as he brings back this book. The journey to translate it and the discovery of the island that is seemingly there and not there make you want to be part of the story.

A charming adventure, Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium is humorous and clever, with danger, pirates, a beautiful ghost mouse, and an exciting world brought to life with imagination.

Thank You!!!

IMG_0907My sincere thanks to everyone who helped make the Shattered Abacus two day promotion so successful! Readers downloaded a grand total of 4,272 copies!! These books are a joy to write, and my attempt to create a world of friendship, empathy, adventure, and love (and a little quantum physics) for young at heart readers. Thank you!

Wait, they still play that thing??

I am constantly surprised by the things I don’t know. There are so many of them, the list is endless, infinite, and really, really long. Like the Janko keyboard I used for the cover of Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium. When I searched online for a weird piano keyboard that matched the one I was seeing on the Metaphonium, I found the Janko piano made in 1882. Awesome. What I still didn’t know is the Janko keyboard is still being produced and played. So cool. I reached into the world of the unknown and pulled out a cool piano. Nice. Enjoy this video!

Where did that Metaphonium come from??

I just finished the storyline (7k words of plot) for the next Orville Mouse book, Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium. So I sat down and designed the cover. I’m retired, but I was a graphic designer and artist for over 35 years.  I wanted the Metaphonium to be on the cover, and I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like (I describe it at the end of Capricious Shadows) but how to create one?  I wanted it to have a half dozen rows of keys, but not normal piano keys, they had to be oddly shaped. I went on line and found a very strange piano made in the 1880s called the Janko keyboard. EXACTLY what I was looking for!! Have to wonder about that…  but I digress. After I found the Janko keyboard I did a search for brass dials, old wooden doors, glass tubing, and a bunch of other little design elements. Two days later I had the final cover.

meOrville Mouse METAPHONIUM cover lo

Space, the final illusion.

I’ve often said the things we take for granted prove to be the most interesting. The idea that a bird gets smaller and smaller as it flies away from us, eventually just blinking into nothingness. Curious illusion.  Let’s think about dreams. We’ve all had them, we all know what they are. In my dream I’m running through a meadow filled with glorious wildflowers on a sparkling summer day. Lovely. I turn around to check on the huffing grizzly bear who’s pounding after me. Okay, too stressful, let’s ditch the grizzly bear, there’s just a beautiful broad meadow, wildflowers, and snow capped mountain peaks in the distance. Done and done. Then I wake up and think, “Oh, pish posh, that wasn’t even real, it was all in my head.” Then I think, “Wait a minute, how could a huge sunny meadow and a mountain range fit inside my head?” Silly, right? But how does that work, exactly? In the dream I am experiencing a lovely meadow and a vast mountain range. It’s there, I see it, I feel it, but when I wake up I realize the three dimensional space I was experiencing did not really exist, it was all thought, only an illusion. Then I step outside my front door in Anchorage Alaska and gaze up at the beautiful snow capped Chugach mountains. They seem so real. So very real.

Memoirs of a Card Throwing Ninja

Not what you think. Tricked you again. This is a confession. At 66 years old I decided to learn how to throw playing cards like a ninja. You just never know when an assassin will crash through the window while you’re playing a game of Old Maid. I went on YouTube and learned all about throwing cards, then began my training as a card throwing ninja. Practice, then more practice. Then more practice. Finally I could throw a playing card about 120 feet. Not that I carefully measured it or anything nerdy like that. Next step, throw the card and stick it into a sheet of styrofoam. Very hard to do, I could only stick about half my cards in. I know, if I throw even harder it will work better. That’s when my arm and shoulder began to hurt. Badly. Did I stop? No, pain is only an illusion to a ninja. Well… up to a point. Finally I had to stop because it hurt so much. Owie. Couldn’t do much with my left arm so I decided to let it heal on its own. It got somewhat better after four months but still hurt a lot. Finally my non-ninja wife said, “You need to go see a physical therapist.” Sigh.

My first day of physical therapy was fine. The second day she began twisting and bending my arm in all manner of impossible directions, stopping just before my eyes popped out of my head. “PT also stands for Pain and Torture.”  Ha ha. PT humor. Then came the exercises. “This is supposed to hurt a lot, right?” “Pain and Torture, remember?”  Then big bags of ice on my shoulder (cold shoulder, get it?) and electricity (think Young Frankenstein “It’s alive!!”) Two weeks went by and my arm was getting stronger, the pain lessening. Say, she might be on to something here. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel I doubled down on the exercises. My arm kept getting better, it was almost normal again. That’s where I am today, and my therapist said in another few weeks I’d be back to my former card throwing ninja self. Sweet. What did I learn? Something I already knew, but needed to be reminded of. Below is a quote from a previous blog posting titled “My Steamy Blog”. You’d be amazed how many hits that title gets. It sums it up quite nicely.

“The world is the perfect mouse trap. Here we are. There’s a big wide road ahead of us filled with obstacles, the sign reading, “Highway to Happiness”. People peer down the road, see the big scary jagged obstacles and say, “Waiter, more pie please.” After nine pieces of key lime pie, “Unnggh. That didn’t really help.” Every attempt we make to avoid going down that road has perfectly disastrous results, and that is the perfection of this world.”

You’ll never see the card coming. I am a shadow, I am the wind, I am the card throwing ninja.