My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’d read a few reviews and seen some promos for Michael R. Stern’s books in the past, but with a TBR toppling over and this being a genre I don’t often read, it never made the climb to the top… until this week. I decided it was time to read the first book, Storm Portal, in his Quantum Touch series. Now I could kick myself for waiting so long. This series isn’t just a science-fiction / time travel story; it has mystery, suspense, drama, intrigue, and wit, and characters I really like.
Fritz, our protagonist, is a history teacher in New Jersey. He’s married, trying to motivate his students, building new friendships, and then boom… his life changes. To find out the specifics, you’ll have to read the book since I am not going to spoil anything. It’s fair to tell you there is a lightning storm, and he’s electrocuted, but from there on… it’s quite a journey. He visits several important moments in history, including a candid discussion with General Robert E. Lee near the end of the Civil War, the actual Triangle fire that changed labor laws, and then… he enters the office of a US President. Fritz’s time travel discovery is no longer secret, and now he needs to figure out whether anyone believes him or is on his side.
At first, the book takes us through a teacher’s journey. Several chapters set the stage, clearly showing the author’s love of history and knowledge of critical events in our past. Meshed with some science and technology overviews, we come to learn what happened when lightning struck. Stern doesn’t get into nitty gritty details; he offers a fine balance of “just go with what I’m saying here” and “here’s the basics of how it works.” It captivated my attention immediately. In all the time travel stories I’ve read before, it was often about where and when the traveler went, or what problem they were trying to fix. Storm Portal takes a totally different stance: how does this work and why might someone try to kill me because of it!
The pages flew by. I read it in two sections, mostly because I had to meet friends for dinner and couldn’t keep reading the first day. The characters are tightly knit, and they ask good questions. Sometimes a scene is just witty and clever, others there is a bit of emotion attached to make us wonder — how would we handle the situation? Our protagonist knows nothing about time travel. He just got tossed back 150 years… and when the President and Secret Service are involved, you have to include some levity or it will be angsty and unbelievable. Stern balances all of this adeptly and kept me fully fascinated.
When I hit the 90% mark, I really kept wondering… he’s playing us. Stern is leading us down a path but really, there will be a secret soon that totally changes the game. Someone knows something, and we don’t know which character is actually being two-faced or double-crossing someone. Is it one of Fritz’s friends? The Secret Service? The National Security Adviser? I mean… come on… there are so many black SUVs following him, then a few shots are taken. We get glimpses of scenes with a vague speaker. And then boom, the book comes to a screeching halt. It was powerful and simply tons of fun to read.
There had to be a setup for future books in the series, and let me tell you… I’ve bought into it. I can’t wait to pick up the next book to find out what’s going on behind the scenes. Great book. Highly recommend. Easy to read, minimal complexity in terms of how time travel works, but full of education on history. A perfect combo for me.
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For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are five books: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.