A tale encouraging readers to preserve dreams that’s both morally sound and entertaining.

Raising Sleeping Stones

From the The Orora Crona Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A young girl, fearing for her and her sister’s lives, flees a town on another planet into a realm of dreams and long-forgotten memories in this debut YA fantasy.

Kiva Stone is having trouble fitting in with others in Solasenda on the planet Gesplitst. Like everyone else, Kiva trains in various fields, from the stacking and constructing that an Erector would do to a plumber-esque Liquidator. But she doesn’t excel in any one area, so no one invites her to join a Guild. One day, Kiva and her little sister, DeeDee, travel to The Beginning, the wall at the Eastern edge of town, where DeeDee finds an opening. Kiva’s surprised to see seemingly abandoned buildings, Solasendans believing the first constructed houses are on the East side of The Beginning, within the town limits. The sisters also meet Hildegarde von Ringen, who collects junk as remnants of the past, contrary to Solasenda’s strategy of consistently moving West—into the future—without looking back. At home, the girls rarely glimpse their always-working mother and must contend with tyrannical Aunt Agnes. When Kiva overhears Agnes implying that she’ll get rid of the sisters, she and DeeDee abscond through the hole in the wall. They reunite with Hilde and learn about the six original tribes from Orora Crona, the Valley of Dreams that most don’t believe exists. Bennet delivers an engaging adventure, elevated by the Stone siblings. Kiva, for one, is resolute, so determined to win her placement test that she nearly dies in a fall and, after making new friends East of The Beginning, proves capable of much more, including mahna (dream powers). DeeDee often functions as comic relief, but never cloyingly so, and her frequent mispronunciations (Aunt Sister for ancestor, apple-gize for apologize) enjoyably display her developing intellect. The bulk of the action takes place outside Solasenda, while the threats in town—both Agnes and the powerful but sinister Mayor Mara— stay there. But there’s still danger, in the form of hunters whom the mayor has likely sent, and plenty for Kiva and DeeDee to absorb, most notably that there’s a lot about their parents they don’t know.

A tale encouraging readers to preserve dreams that’s both morally sound and entertaining.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2014


Page Count: 364

Publisher: DreamKeeper Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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