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.

Description:

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.

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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[ARC Review] Tiger Queen – Book Review

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!

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The Dragon Tamer

Alveria Dragon Akademy Book 1 by Ava Richardson
Published on:  October 31, 2018
3 stars

Dragon tamer“In Alveria, humans and dragons have existed side by side for centuries, but old tensions have grown and the kingdom is now divided…”

In The Dragon Tamer, Kaelan discovers she has a dragon heritage which allows her to enter the Alveria Akademy – a school for humans and dragons to learn their skills and be paired together. Kaelan is a peasant and this opportunity is one she must take for herself and her mother who is ill and needs a dragon’s special healing to make her well again. Kaelan travels a great distance to the school and as she draws closer circumstances bring her and Prince Lasaro together, where he very quickly determines that she must be his tamer.

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Sanyare: The Last Descendant

The Sanyare Chronicles by Megan Haskell
Published on:  February 16, 2015
4-stars-1

Sanyare

“With a deep breath, Rie left the pretensions of the High Court and its glittering throng behind her.” – Sanyare: The Last Descendant, Megan Haskell

In Sanyare: The Last Descendant, Rie, a human messenger for the elven High Court is on a routine delivery job when she is attacked by two Shadow Realm assassins. Since contact with blood sidhe is forbidden, she finds that she must travel to the Shadow Realm to discover the identity of the traitor who sent the assassins and clear her name.

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