A resounding success that will have audiences begging for more.

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In this YA fantasy debut, a lonely boy discovers that his fate is tied to a hidden realm.

Peter Huddleston, 12, spends his time alone, reading comics and mystery novels, eating candy and throwing his boomerang. He has taken the death of his mother, Patricia, quite hard and doesn’t enjoy other kids’ company. His father has since remarried, and his stepmother’s penchants for bland food and the color beige only depress him more. Now that school has ended, Peter has been roaming his small world, and the neighbors see him and his boomerang as a menace. When his father tells him that he must spend the summer at his maternal aunt Gillian’s home, Hillside Manor, he thinks the worst. The lavish property, however, shocks Peter from his doldrums; it has an animal preserve, a museum, a library—and leads to Galadria, the Golden Realm. Gillian explains to the boy that she—along with Peter’s mother, when she was still alive—rules this magical world as the leader of the House of Willowbrook. More astoundingly, Peter is next in line to rule! But the slimy Knor, of the House of Shadowray, says that Peter isn’t fit for the throne. Can he complete the four Rites of Passage and ensure Willowbrook’s reign? Debut novelist de Leon begins his trilogy right, transporting readers with animated prose and colorful ideas. He captures the adolescent mind perfectly, as when Peter envisions life with his aunt, where he “would probably have to floss years of dried, chewed up prunes from her crusty dentures.” During the dangerous Rites of Passage, Peter is aided by enchanted Creamers, which, when eaten, imbue him with magical abilities (a far cry from the horrendous amount of junk food he eats in the story’s first half). A spark of maturity resonates when Gillian tells her nephew, “I ask you to agree to a life of great privilege and great responsibility.” Overall, this adventure does everything the first portion of a trilogy should—except reveal Galadria. de Leon mischievously pushes readers toward Part 2.

A resounding success that will have audiences begging for more.

Pub Date: June 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692227268

Page Count: 170

Publisher: Galadria Worldwide

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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