The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea – Book Review

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Seat by: Axie Oh
Published on: February 22, 2022

“After all, not all storytellers are grandmothers, but all grandmothers are storytellers”

An enchanting tale where a girl is whisked into the Spirit Realm. Once there she must find a way to awaken the Sea God in time for her to return to the Mortal Realm.

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A Dragonbird in the Fern – Book Review

A Dragonbird in the Fern: Laura Rueckert
Published on: August 3, 2021

In some regards, the story is your typical YA fantasy – there is a kingdom, a romance, and an evil plot. It is an enjoyable read and wouldn’t necessarily stand out as much, except for the fact that the author created a main character with dyslexia. But moreso it is that this fantasy novel doesn’t just have a character with dyslexia, but that it becomes a central plot point to the story. In fact, I would go as far in saying that this story would not exist if the dyslexia had been left out.

The book starts off shortly after Princess Scilla’s assassination. Scilla had been betrothed to the King of a neighboring country. She had spent many years learning the King’s language and customs, but upon her death the betrothal transfers to Princess Jiara. But unlike her sister, Jiara has always had difficulty with letters and words and reading. As a result, Jiara does not know the King’s native language. As the marriage starts with the newlyweds can only communicate through an interpreter.

If all there was to this story was a princess who had dyslexia and didn’t know the language of her new husband, it would never have left an impression on me. I would have wondered why the author bothered to tell us at all if she wasn’t going to use it. But that is not what happens here. Instead Rueckert has carefully plotted an entire story around the difficulties of learning new languages and the main character’s dyslexia.

Through Jiara and King Raffar we explore the effort and amount of time needed to learn even the basics of a language. This couple is so cute. The most memorable scenes for me are of them eating dinner and Raffar helping Jiara learn the language. Instead of immediately graduating to Shakespeare level dialogues, the two of them stick with Dr. Seuss conversations: short, simple sentences. “I like rice.” “I like sweet potatoes.” There is a lot of miming going on too to help each other understand. I suspect this couple would have been great at charades.

With A Dragonbird in the Fern, Laura Rueckert has not only created a delightful book to read, but one that is also memorable. It’s not perfect – I saw the ending/villain coming. But it is a nice read and one I can recommend if you are looking for a light-hearted YA fantasy.

Thank you Netgalley and North Star Editions for the advanced review copy and opportunity to provide an honest opinion. 

Paris on Repeat – Book Review

By: Amy Bearce
Published on: July 14, 2020

Similar to the movie Groundhog Day, Paris on Repeat gives Eve Hollis a day to remember…over and over again. The premise is one I love and there has been more than one day in my life where I wish I could go back, repeat it and change things. However, although the story was enjoyable there were a couple of issues that really bothered me. Both issues might be in relation to genre misclassification.

Eve Hollis and her classmates have been on a class trip to Paris. It’s their last day before heading back to Germany where their parents are stationed due to being the military. This particular day is filled with lots of excitement because they are finally getting to go to the Eiffel Tower where Eve plans to confess her feelings to her friend Jace. But before she can, things move in a direction that feels out of her control. Lucky (or unlucky) for her she wakes up the next morning repeating the same day and gets to try again. Only that day doesn’t go as well as she wanted either.

As mentioned above, there were two issues that I had. When I selected the book it was very clearly advertised or placed in the middle grade/children’s fiction genre. Since this is a children’s book, I was completely taken aback when the first two sentences reference the Eiffel tower looking like the middle finger and then the main character thinking about giving ‘the salute’ back. Since middle grade age range starts at age 8, it seems completely out of place and unnecessary for the story. After these two sentences, nothing like this is within the book and I found no other content-type issues.

The other issue is more minor and it relates to romance. In Paris on Repeat, the kids in the story are in 8th grade – not quite high school yet and are really in that in-between stage in terms of book categories between middle grade and YA/teen. Since the story includes kissing (chaste kissing) it seems a bit more than what one might expect for the middle grade genre. Because of this issue and the one mentioned in the previous paragraph, I’m wondering if this should really be moved up to YA/teens.

Overall, a fun story about friendship and developing confidence in yourself. Not a book I can recommend for younger middle grade, but is one that I definitely think late junior high/teens would enjoy.


GROUNDHOG DAY gets a hilarious French twist in this delightful upper middle grade novel about first crushes and friendship when an eighth-grade class trip to Paris goes horribly wrong and the worst day of one girls life keeps happening over and over. Fourteen-year-old Eve Hollis is ready to push through her fears and finally let her crush know how she feels. And what better place to tell him than on top of the Eiffel Tower in the City of Love? But things don’t go as planned, and Eve is sure she’s had the worst day of her life until she wakes up the next morning to realize the whole disaster of a day is happening again. She’s trapped in a time loop. Desperate to make it stop, Eve will have to take some big risks and learn from her mistakes or she’s destined to live the most awkwardly painful day of her life over and over again, forever.

The Glamourist – Book Review

The Vine Witch #2 By: Luanne G. Smith
Published On: June 9, 2020

It’s the relaxed atmosphere and mood that draws me to this series. High octane action/adventure novels are great, but the energy those give off often makes me feel a need to rush to the finish. Instead, The Glamourist is a simple story about the next chapter in Elena’s life with her new fiancee, Jean-Paul: Meeting the future mother-in-law. Of course it isn’t really as simple as that since Elena now has to contend with the Ministry of Lineages and Licenses along with finding ways to sneak off to help Yvette out.

Without trying to spoil anything if you haven’t read the first book in the series, in The Vine Witch there is a moment where Elena is thrown in jail and ends up in a cell with two other women – Yvette and Sidra. Without realizing it at the time, it is each of these women who the three books of the Vine Witch series focuses on. Elena is still the main character as she was in The Vine Witch, but The Glamourist now features Yvette’s story. Here Elena comes to the city to meet her future mother-in-law, but before she does she needs approval from the government to continue being a vine witch. The answer is ‘no’ – at least not unless you do one small thing that revolves around Yvette, who is still a condemned murderer and fugitive.

The Prologue opens the story by showing us what happens to Sidra and Yvette directly after the events of the last book. Yvette ‘accidentally’ steals a wish from Sidra and as a result they are now both bound to remain in the city until Yvette’s wish is completed. To say Sidra is unhappy is putting it mildly. She had vowed never to return to that city and is a tad angry about Yvette’s stolen wish. I highly suspect we will get to learn more about this and her vow in the next book.

The stolen wish from Sidra is actually the one piece of the story that befuddles me a bit. Although Sidra tries to explain it to Yvette I never quite understood how it happened or what the wish specifically was or why it locked them there in the city. The wish is what starts Yvette’s story so as a reader as long as I knew that the wish had to be fulfilled and had an inkling of an idea of what the wish was, then I was able to continue reading without too much issue. With all that said, I do wish I had a better grasp on it. But it really doesn’t take too long for us to figure out that this wish has something to do with Yvette learning more about her mother and finding a way to unlock her magic.

Although never explicitly pronounced, one gets the distinct impression that the story is set in Paris. With French phrases and terms sprinkled throughout the story and references to cars and gaslights, you can’t help but believe you are in France in the early 1910s – 1920s. References to various artists and paintings are plentiful giving the early 1920s a definite nod.

The story is told from three POVs: Elena’s, Yvette’s and Henri – a new character that Yvette knew from a long time ago. Elena and Yvette are where most of the story happens with Henri’s chapters occurring less frequently. I liked Henri, but in reality he wasn’t all that memorable. The characters that were memorable though were Alexandre – the owner of a curio shop where all items within are guaranteed to have been enchanted at one point in their life, and Marion – Jean-Paul’s mother who has an interest in the world beyond.

In the end I found I enjoyed this novel more than I did the first one, which felt a little uneven to me. But overall the pacing and tone feels more consistent with this story and would be a lovely choice if you’re looking for a light fantasy story with a dash of romance and one that has a slower pace to it.

Rating: 3.75


A spellbinding novel of bloodlines, self-discovery, and redemption by the author of the Washington Post bestseller The Vine Witch.

Abandoned as a child in turn-of-the-century Paris, Yvette Lenoir has longed to uncover the secrets of her magical heritage and tap her suppressed powers. But what brave and resourceful Yvette has done to survive the streets has made her a fugitive. With a price on her head, she clings to a memento from her past—what she believes to be a grimoire inherited from the mother she never knew. To unlock the secrets of her past, Yvette trusts in one woman to help solve the arcane riddles among its charmed pages.

Elena Boureanu is the vine witch of Château Renard, noted for its renowned wines. Even as she struggles with her own bloodline—and its poisonous threat to her future—Elena can’t ignore a friend on the run. Joined by a cunning thief, the proprietor of an enchanted-curio shop, and a bewitching black cat, Elena and Yvette are determined to decode Yvette’s mysterious keepsake. But what restless magic will be unleashed? And what are Yvette and Elena willing to risk to become the witches they were destined to be?

A Very English Murder – Book Review

A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery #1 by: Verity Bright
Published on: April 7, 2020

Cozy mysteries and I do not always have the best relationship. While I enjoy mysteries, especially historical set in specific decades like the 1920s-40s, I often find this subgenre a little too ‘light’ for my own person tastes. However, I was reading a fictional book about a supervirus and although it was a good story it didn’t take too many chapters in to know I needed to take a break and what better way than a new cozy mysteries series set in England in the early 1920s.

In A Very English Murder Lady Eleanor Swift has recently inherited Henley Hall left to her by her uncle. Many years have passed she was last there and soon after arriving she finds herself exhausted and a little overwhelmed by it all and decides she needs to take a long walk. However, it is during this walk, which turns into a rain storm, that she sees a man being shot. Then, his body disappears.

While I enjoyed this book and loved having a light read available, the story and pacing itself felt a little uneven at times, especially shortly after the beginning. It opens up strong – introducing us to Lady Eleanor and what brings her into the murder story. But soon after informing the police, who don’t take her seriously, she finds she will have to do the investigation herself. It is at this point we meet several characters right in a row and to be honest it is here where it starts to feel like a plot checklist and didn’t come across as naturally as I would have liked. Meet this person – check, meet this next person – check. While I understand her desire to prove to everyone there was a murder, I did wonder if this was the immediate thing that would take place when moving into a new home, a new town, and a new life. It just felt a little forced.

But directly after these new character meetings, the story began feeling a little more natural when Lady Eleanor and Clifford, the butler, start having an actual conversation followed by a dinner party she is invited to where we begin to learn even more about her and her background as well as her neighbors. I soon started snuggling in and found myself engaged the rest of the way through.

There is a lot to enjoy – walks with the Gladstone, the dog, who sometimes plays the role of her “Watson”, Clifford who is used to doing things a certain way, two potential love interests (I already have a preference) as well as other interesting characters. Plus, it has a heroine who has cycled part of the subcontinent to follow in the footsteps of Annie Londonderry, who was the first woman who cycled around the world. So, if you are looking for a new cozy mystery you may want to check this one out.

Rating: 4 stars


England, 1920Eleanor Swift has spent the last few years travelling the world: taking tea in China, tasting alligators in Peru, escaping bandits in Persia and she has just arrived in England after a chaotic forty-five-day flight from South Africa. Chipstone is about the sleepiest town you could have the misfortune to meet. And to add to these indignities – she’s now a Lady.

Lady Eleanor, as she would prefer not to be known, reluctantly returns to her uncle’s home, Henley Hall. Now Lord Henley is gone, she is the owner of the cold and musty manor. What’s a girl to do? Well, befriend the household dog, Gladstone, for a start, and head straight out for a walk in the English countryside, even though a storm is brewing…

But then, from the edge of a quarry, through the driving rain, Eleanor is shocked to see a man shot and killed in the distance. Before she can climb down to the spot, the villain is gone and the body has vanished. With no victim and the local police convinced she’s stirring up trouble, Eleanor vows to solve this affair by herself. And when her brakes are mysteriously cut, one thing seems sure: someone in this quiet country town has Lady Eleanor Swift in their murderous sights…

Magic 7 – Never Alone – Graphic Novel Review

Script by: Kid Toussaint
Art by: Rosa La Barbera, Giuseppe Quattrocchi
Published on: January 20, 2020

Magic 7 completely surprised me in how much I enjoyed it. And if I am honest, it was a graphic novel I was not ready to have end. If the 2nd volume had been available to me I would have immediately grabbed it and started reading.

Technically speaking, I was a little worried at the first page. It looked to be set hundreds of years ago, not to mention an old fashioned art style and font style, but as I turned to the 2nd page everything completely changed. That’s when I realized the first page was only a flashback to some previous time setting the story in motion.

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Undercover Thief – Book Review

The Victoria Institute Book 1 by H.T. King
Published on September 26, 2018

This young adult book was a ton of fun to read. I hated every time I had to put it down. In Undercover Thief, Pam is a pretty experienced thief when her parents who walked out on her six years ago decide to come back and force her to go to a spy school.

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Ruin of Gods – Book Review

A Gods and Legacies Novel by J. Collette Smith
Published on: November 1, 2019

A new young adult fantasy story where a princess who’s Name Day celebration ends abruptly when an attack occurs and her family is killed. She escapes, but must now learn who to trust, when to trust and what to trust if she wants to get her kingdom back from those who took it and seek to kill those like her.

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Witch Hollow and the Wrong Spell – Book Review

Witch Hollow #1 by I.D. Blind
Published on: December 29, 2013

This cover totally sold me on the book when I ran across it. I love the color scheme, the slightly creepy October vibe, the witch flying dead center against the bright, full moon…. Never underestimate the power of a good cover. Thankfully, the story lived up to it.

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