I’m thrilled to announce that Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Clockwork Glowbirds has won a gold medal in the 2016 Readers Favorite International Book Awards for Best Young Adult Adventure Book.
Every once in a while I get a truly moving review that makes it all worthwhile. This is one of them. I truly appreciate the time and thought that went into this review. Thank you T.L Coon!!
By T.L. Coon on August 24, 2016
This series has skyrocketed to the tiptop of our list of the best books we have read this year. I originally was drawn to the books when I found a couple of them on the Kindle Best Sellers List; I thought they would be appropriate for my nine year old advanced reader. It can be difficult to find books that are truly interesting to a young advanced reader while still being truly appropriate for their age. Well, little did I know that I would fall in love, as well.Tom Hoffman is an excellent writer. Smart. Creative. Economical. Impactful. Obsessed with the Common Good. And he exquisitely crafts an engaging story, as well!If you are a quiet, gentle, kind soul, these books are for you — old or young. If you like a wildly imaginative, strapping-good adventure full of small acts of great love, these books are for you. If you enjoy science, philosophy, and dignity-for-all these books are also for you.My daughter and I often refer to these characters and concepts which have ignited our imaginations throughout the course of our days. I love that we have common content to discuss and ponder together. Most of all, we can’t shake the way reading these books makes us feel: Joyful and Hopeful!
So, let me mention that some of the most excellent books that this series beats out for the Best of the Year Title are The Chronicles of Prydain (by Lloyd Alexander), The Wee Free Men (by Terry Pratchett), and, in my case, The Long Ships (by Frans Bengtsson) which was one of the most well written books I have ever read. The Bartholomew the Adventurer Trilogy beats these out for the way it continues to influence and affect you long after the reading of it is complete. As much as I adored The Long Ships, it is these characters and ideas we carry within to reference when we need some daily strength and hope for the future. They have elevated our perspectives.
Okay, I tricked you. This post is steamy, but in a curious way. This all came to me the other morning while I was taking a nice steamy shower. So nice. Who doesn’t like a toasty warm shower on a chilly day? Don’t forget I live in Alaska. A lot of days are chilly days. But I digress. It crossed my mind that even if I wanted to I could not spend the rest of my life in that warm steamy shower. I couldn’t even spend the rest of the day there. I would, of course, turn into a wrinkly raisin of a writer. (alliteration, TYVM) I began thinking about that moment when I grit my teeth, reach over and shut off the shower, push open the door, grab the towel and face the cold, cruel world again. And what about about the nature of showers? Are there other segments of our lives which are similar? This is not ground breaking stuff, but it is kind of interesting. A shower is a world where it’s always raining, always warm, has no cell phones, no computers, no emails, no telemarketers, and no kids asking you what’s for dinner. Nice. It’s also where a lot of people have their best ideas. Wait a minute, that sounds a lot like meditation! I tricked you again. It’s exactly like meditation, except for the getting clean and wrinkly part. When you shut off the outside world you begin to connect to your inner self, the source of all creativity. I am a very creative person. There, I said it. But truth be told, I am more or less just a messenger. After many years of meditating, my unconscious inner self, aka collective consciousness, inner voice, etc and I have become close friends. I ask it for ideas and it sends them to me. I don’t like all of them, but I can pick and choose the ones I do like, mash them all together and call it Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Clockwork Glowbirds. But, back to the steamy part of the blog. We know we can’t stay in the shower forever, we know we can’t sit and meditate forever, we know we can’t go on vacation forever without having it turn into not a vacation, or eat key lime pie forever, or drink wine, beer, vodka, or ingest recreational pharmaceuticals forever without disastrous results. Well, most of us know this, but some of us haven’t stopped trying. Mmmm…. key lime pie. 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 permanently avoid going down that road has perfectly disastrous results, and that is the perfection of this world.
Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. –Robert Frost
I’ve passed 50k words on Orville Mouse and the Shattered Abacus and realized that writing is a kind of mystical version of Schrodinger’s cat. The following is an excerpt from The Thirteenth Monk I used to illustrate that principle:
“I don’t think that’s it, Oliver.” Clara pulled a pink envelope out of her pocket, a mischievous smile on her face. “It’s quite a lovely envelope, and smells distinctly of lilac scent. Who do you suppose it’s from?” Clara blinked her eyes innocently.
Oliver’s usual composure vanished. “Great heavens, I have not the faintest idea who would send me such a letter. Just throw it on the pile with the rest of my correspondence and I’ll get to it later.”
“Mmm… the return address says it’s from someone named Madame Beffy in Grymmsteir. Isn’t she the one you buy all your éclairs from?”
“Madame Beffy… well, yes, of course, she makes the very best éclairs in all of Grymmore. Her pastry shop is quite well known. She is also a very lovely rabbit. We have become rather good friends over the last year, though I have no idea why she might be sending me a letter. Perhaps it is simply a note to thank me for all the éclairs I have purchased.”
Clara smiled as she handed the letter to Oliver. “I’ll stop teasing you now and let you read your letter. Oliver, I’m truly happy you have found a dear friend in Madame Beffy. You deserve all the happiness in the world.”
Oliver T. Rabbit had met his match and he knew it. He dropped all pretense, taking the letter from Clara. “Thank you, Clara. I am quite fond of Madame Beffy and it is my intention to spend more time with her if she is so inclined.”
“If she searched for a thousand years she would not find another rabbit as wonderful as you, Oliver.”
“Oh dear, I really should get back to work now. Stacks of papers to sign and drawings to approve, you know.”
“I understand. We’ll stop in again before we leave for the Timere Forest. Bartholomew says it’s the most beautiful place he has ever seen. It sounds lovely.”
“Yes, quite lovely indeed. Especially now that the giant ants are gone.” He was still chuckling after Clara had left.
Glancing back to make certain the door was closed, Oliver set Madame Beffy’s letter down in front of him. He ran his paw gently across the envelope, the memories of his last visit to Madame Beffy’s Pastry Shop flooding back to him, his senses filled again with the delicious aromas of éclairs and lilac and freshly baked cinnamon rolls.
He picked up Madame Beffy’s letter, studying it closely. At this very moment in time, the content of her letter was a cloud of infinite possibility. The letter could say whatever he wished it to say. Madame Beffy could confess that Oliver was her heart’s fondest desire. She could also say he was simply a cherished friend or a valued customer of the pastry shop. Once he opened and read the letter, this luxury of imagination would come to an abrupt end. The cloud of infinite possibility would be distilled down to a single focused reality, becoming a new truth in his world, a turned page in the story of his life. He leaned the envelope up against his table lamp with a sigh.
“Tomorrow. I’ll open it tomorrow.”
When I’m writing I have access to an infinite cloud of possibilities. What will they find when they open the door to the mysterious ancient Anarkkian bunker? Once I choose from that cloud of possibility it becomes a focused reality — all in my head of course. It’s so fascinating to me how the world of Orville Mouse is growing, the strange twists and turns that seem to come out of nowhere, other dimensions opening up and revealing themselves to me. So strange and yet not strange at all. That’s my thought for the day!
I’m very pleased to report that the recently released Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Clockwork Glowbirds has received a stellar five star review on Amazon from the Hall of Fame Top 100 Amazon Reviewer Grady Harp. My sincere thanks to Mr. Harp for his wonderful review.
Here is the text of the review:
Alaska author Tom Hoffman comes to young adult (+/- children’s) literature with a degree in psychology from Georgetown University and a BA in Oregon College of Art. Tom’s career has embraced being an artist, a graphic designer, and now an imaginative writer. His previous books are the trilogy -THE ELEVENTH RING, THE THIRTEENTH MONK, and THE SEVENTH MEDALLION. He now begins a new series – the Orville Wellington Mouse series, of which this is the first installment.
Tom takes a chance with this book, stepping into science fiction using animals as characters, and it works very well indeed. One of the reasons the story hangs together so well is his well-considered anthropomorphic stance of his characters. Without stooping to the cuteness of today’s high money making films of animated stories, Tom keeps his level of sophistication very high indeed. His prose is luminous and makes the pleasure of reading the story all the more satisfying – adults can enjoy this book as well as teens, and for teens it presents a fine adventure tale in the language of sophistication that hopefully will replace the current acronym mode of communication fostered by the Internet and media!
For example, Tom opens his story thus: ‘A gentle breeze carried the delicate fragrance of ten thousand newly bloomed orange blossoms across the balmy summer air. It was far too early in the season for the trees to be bearing fruit, but the intoxicating scent of the blossoms floating through the grove was more than enough to satisfy Orville Wellington Mouse. Besides, strolling alongside Orville beneath a gloriously radiant summer sun was his best friend in the world, Sophia Mouse, and that alone made him supremely happy. Sophia had moved to Muridaan Falls only one year ago, dropping like a bossy know-it-all gift from above into Orville’s life. He was drawn to her immediately, even though at first blush it would seem the two mice had little or nothing in common.’
But on to the story, in a tight synopsis form: ‘Orville Wellington Mouse lives with his Mum in the quiet fishing village of Muridaan Falls, Symoca. His life takes an unexpected turn when he learns his best friend Sophia Mouse is not only from another planet, but is also a member of the Shapers Guild, a group of powerful mice who are able to convert their thoughts into physical objects. When Orville notices a group of seven glowbirds exhibiting rather extraordinary behavior, he and Sophia attempt to uncover the origin of the unusual birds but soon find themselves enmeshed in a fiendish plot to embroil Symoca in a horrific war. Captured by the powerful and mysterious Red Mouse, the two adventurers are hurled through a spectral door into the terrifying world of Periculum, home of the dreaded giant carnivorous centipedes. With help from the secretive Metaphysical Adventurers, Proto the Rabbiton, the Mad Mouse of Muridaan, a gigantic Gnorli bird, some ghostly Anarkkian warriors, and the enigmatic Monks of the Blue Robe, Orville and Sophia must find their way home and stop the evil Red Mouse before he destroys Symoca.’
Titillating? Yes, and all the more so as the reader becomes involved in this highly imaginative interplanetary sci-fi little tale. This is going to be a very successful series. Grady Harp, June 16
I’m happy to announce the release of Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Clockwork Glowbirds! The Kindle version is available now and the paperback version will be available within the week. It’s gotten stellar reviews — five reviews on Readers Favorite and all were 5 stars.
Well, the first three reviews of Orville Mouse from Readers Favorite are in, and I’m pleased to say all three were 5 star reviews! Whew! I can breathe again! Here’s the first review:
“Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Clockwork Glowbirds by Tom Hoffman is a heartwarming fantasy tale that teens will find enjoyable. The sudden discovery that his best friend, Sophia Mouse, is a rare species from another planet and endowed with extraordinary skills could have been enough to shake up Orville Wellington Mouse. However, he soon discovers that something sinister might be happening when he notices peculiar behavior in a group of glowbirds. Orville Mouse and his friend embark on a mission to investigate the source of this unusual behavior. Little do they know that they are about to provoke an enemy who not only poses a great danger to their lives, but is also capable of bringing the peaceful village of Muridaan Falls, Symoca into a terrible war.
Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Clockwork Glowbirds is a work of rare ingenuity and imagination, and readers will find it interesting to watch the lead characters as they are thrust from one challenge to another. Pulled away from their own familiar landscape and thrown into Periculum, a dangerous world peopled by all sorts of unloving creatures, Orville and Sophia will have to muster the resources they need to get back home and defend their own. The conflict in this novel is well developed, but it’s the denouement that will leave readers spellbound.
Hoffman comes across as a master in the teen fantasy genre and he successfully makes readers feel for characters who inhabit a world completely different from theirs. The language is beautiful and accessible, laced with vivid descriptions and a rare touch of humor. With unusual skill, the author builds this gripping tale around human values of friendship, loyalty, love, and courage. The plot is meticulously crafted and it moves fast, and readers will be eagerly turning the pages to find out what happens next. At times the narrative is hilarious, but the humor is immediately replaced by intense action which makes the story even more gripping. This is one of those books that offers a place for teens to take refuge, a cleverly wrought gem. A well written and interesting story.”