A Dragonbird in the Fern: Laura Rueckert Publishedon: 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.
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.
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.
By Dorothy A. Winsor Published on: September 28, 2019
Although the characters are 15-years old and can be seen as a teen/young adult novel, The Wind Reader also feels like it would work well in the middle grade category too. With captivating characters, suspense, and ethical and moral dilemmas, I found this to be a very nice fantasy read.
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.
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.
by Annie Sullivan Published on: September 10, 2019
When I first read the description I honestly wasn’t so sure about reading a YA fantasy book written where the whole story is set in the desert. With an ongoing drought the kingdom Achra has a serious water shortage, meaning there was a whole population in a desperate situation with little hope. People slowly dying of thirst didn’t sound like a fun read. But then I reread the description and thought ‘you know…this one might be good.’ And I was right!
Bluewater Grove Book 1 by Alec Whitesell, Craig Bonacorsi Published on: June 11, 2019
It always feels like a breath of fresh air when I read a book I enjoy and don’t have to talk myself into finishing. The Necromancer’s Prison combines three of my favorite genre’s: YA, science fiction, and fantasy.
The Bone Witch #1 by Rin Chupeco Published on: March 7, 2017
Time away from this book helped me put it in its proper perspective.
Summary: When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.
In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.