Review of “Storm Portal” & “Sand Storm” by Michael R. Stern

23496771History class was always my favorite in school.  If my high school History teacher had been able to go INTO history like Fritz, I’d have begged to tag along.  For me, these little adventures to meet Robert E. Lee and see other points in American history were the best parts of the book.  It’s a great premise.  And the way the author manages to sneak in History lessons throughout the book is a great teaching tool to the reading audience – careful, you might learn from this story!

All of the characters in this book feel like everyday people, even the President and First Lady.  It’s easy to put yourself in the shoes of Fritz, Ash, Linda, George, the teenage students, etc.  Everyone is maybe a little too calm about the sudden discovery of time travel, but it works for the lighthearted feel of the story.  There seemed to be a lot of dinners and food-related get-togethers, and I would’ve liked to see maybe a little more use of the portal rather than so many conversations about lasagna recipes, but really the action scenes balance all that out pretty well.

The writing is smooth and easy.  I read large chunks at a time because I wanted to know what would happen next.  The mystery element of “How the heck does the portal work?”  is very well developed.  Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book if you like light Sci-Fi and History.

4 StarsSee it on Amazon!

26183882This sequel picks up right where the first book left off.  Fritz, Ash, and the teachers-aren’t-so-boring-after-all gang now have an understood relationship with the White House, and it’s not surprising that the President now wants to use the portal for covert operations.   This book is certainly more PG-13 rated than the first because of action, violence, and war-based bloodshed, but nothing is over the top.   I liked the more serious tone and political questions raised in this book too.

There’s still lots of history-based fun in this one.  Going to Paris to meet Hemingway DID come out of nowhere and didn’t jive with much of anything going on, but it was a nice break – I will never complain about seeing fictionalized versions of famous writers.  Ash and Fritz are still clever and witty.  George is comic relief as the exasperated, not super-bright principal.   Robert E. Lee gets another cameo.  The author has nice teaching moments between Fitz and his students.

But the main focus is definitely on the covert missions to Ira…I mean Naria.  And here, a lot has to be taken with a grain of salt (or sand).  In no way do I believe their main contact with the President during this important mission would be via a high school teacher’s phone.   Nor do I think they wouldn’t clear the building first to make sure ALL the students were out.   And would highly trained soldiers need a potty break right when they get there?  Several little details are just a little too simple, but it still reads well and I liked the action.

Overall, I look forward to seeing where Fritz and Ash go next.   There were some unbelievable elements to this one, but it was still a fun read.

3.5 Stars
See it on Amazon!

About Sunshine Somerville

Science Fantasy author.
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