A successful sequel that delivers appealing time travelers thrust into a society filled with knights and dragons.

Stumbling On A Tale

From the Time to Time series , Vol. 2

The Middle Ages beckon in the second installment of this YA time-travel series.

Peri, Henry, and Max have learned a few things since their trip to 19th-century New York City. Unfortunately, the precautions they’ve taken against inadvertent time travel fail, and they suddenly find themselves in a forest during the Middle Ages. This time, Max is unfamiliar with the object that triggered their trip to the past, making their return to the present much more challenging. As the three children attempt to locate the object, they stumble across travelers whose stories provide insight into their exact location in time. A peasant with a pig, Barlow, offers a story of King Richard the Lionheart. A pretty young maiden, Emily, relates a sad tale of a lady doomed to an arranged marriage. A brave page, Jack, offers a vision of glory involving knights and dragons. Even Merlin makes an appearance as a fumbling wizard. Things grow more complicated, however, when Max vanishes. Without Max and the unknown object, they’ll never make it home. Peri and Henry bide their time at a medieval castle and even help their new friends while knights search for their lost sibling. Roche (Making It Home, 2015, etc.) capitalizes on a successful formula from her first novel: likable protagonists, an entertaining story, and historical facts presented in an accessible and age-appropriate way. The setting is a superb choice. While Roche delivers fairy-tale aspects such as dragons and knights that are sure to engage her audience, she also incorporates factual information, such as the definition of a feudal society or the ransom of King Richard. Roche also addresses real-world problems as Peri and Henry continue to reconcile their new relationship as stepsiblings. They bicker incessantly over events in the past and present, exemplifying the potential challenges of blending two families. In addition to the narrative, Roche again provides an appendix packed with activities and projects related to the Middle Ages, including trivia, recipes, and a 3,000-year-old game.

A successful sequel that delivers appealing time travelers thrust into a society filled with knights and dragons. 

Pub Date: May 2, 2016


Page Count: 233

Publisher: Oak Lei Press

Review Posted Online: April 10, 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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