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Princess Academy Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life Then word comes that the king s priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess In a year s time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village The king s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Read for my 2018 women of speculative fiction challenge.No wolf falters before the bite, so strike.No hawk wavers before the dive, so swing.No sun pauses before the set, just strike.No rain delays before the fall, just swing In my most drastic tonal shift to date, we will be going from talking about The Poppy War to discussing Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, a 2006 nominee for the Newbery Medal Am I just using this reading project as an excuse to revisit the books that I read obsessively as Read for my 2018 women of speculative fiction challenge.No wolf falters before the bite, so strike.No hawk wavers before the dive, so swing.No sun pauses before the set, just strike.No rain delays before the fall, just swing In my most drastic tonal shift to date, we will be going from talking about The Poppy War to discussing Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, a 2006 nominee for the Newbery Medal Am I just using this reading project as an excuse to revisit the books that I read obsessively as a child YOU KNOW IT So What s It About Miri s people have lived on Mount Askel for generations, quarrying rich stone for trade with the kingdom that lies below The simplicity of life in her village is shattered when word comes that the king s priests have divined that the prince s bride will be one of the village girls In response, every teenage girl in the village must leave her family to attend an academy intended to prepare them for the possibility of becoming princess At the academy Miri will have to confront how big the world truly is and how little she knows of it, all the while struggling to find her place with the other girls and fighting the prejudice of her instructor Does she even want to be princess if it means leaving her beloved mountain home What I Thought The F WordI m actually starting to dread the day when I re read a classic from my childhood and it ends up disappointing me I ve been extremely lucky so far or maybe Little Charlotte had excellent taste in books because Princess Academy stands up just as well as Ella Enchanted, Dealing with Dragons and The Hero and the Crown For all the emphasis that is put upon the girls preparing themselves to meet the prince, it s fascinating just how incidental he ends up being in the grand scheme of the story More than anything, this is actually a story about the doors that are opened by access to good education The prize that Miri wins at the end of the story is not a prince s love it is confidence, the ability to negotiate and advocate for herself and her village, and the chance to stand up against the exploitation that is being enacted against her people From the start, Miri is very aware of the way her people are stigmatized and judged for being simple mountain people and as she grows in knowledge and self esteem her desire to fight against this unfairness only growsThe prince is also fairly tangential to Miri s story because the most important relationships in the books are the bonds that form between all of the academy girls The importance and power of female friendship, support and communication in this book really cannot be overstated, and while there is a lot of competition between them especially in the start of the book, nearly all of the girls gradually learn that the most important thing is to support each other so they can all succeed One of my favorite scenes in this regard is the scene where they all use quarry speak to help each other with an exam so that they can go back to the village for a holiday.Just as Miri is instrumental in the push to better her village with the education the girls receive, she is also instrumental in the development of this sisterhood between the girls, but in the beginning of the book she is something of an outcast amongst them because her disability prevents her from working with them in the mines Hale does an excellent job of presenting Miri s insecurity, shame and secret feelings of being useless, and it is an absolute joy to see the delicacy with which she explores the shame in particular Miri projects her own inner shame onto the people of the village, assuming that they think her just as useless as she thinks she is, and because she never talks about there is no chance for her to realize that her assumptions are in fact without basis It s a wonderfully done examination of the way that shame perpetuates itself through silence and isolation, and I think one of the book s greatest triumphs is when Miri is finally able to break through that shame to connect genuinely with others.I love Miri for her cleverness, courage, vulnerability and humor and I love all of the girls of the academy, from shy fellow outcast Britta to Katar, the mean girl of the group Consistently nasty as she is to Miri, it is ultimately revealed that her unkindness and competitiveness come from her fierce unhappiness on the mountain and her desperate desire to know other placesI want to be somebody else and see other things And now I never will Miri shivered at a breeze coming up from the valley All her life she had seen herself as the only lonesome thing in the world, but now even Katar seemed but a small child lost on a far hill As ever, Miri is an agent of change and encourages Princess to be Britta to bring Katar down the mountain as a court representative of the mountain people Miri knowsthan ever that her mountain is home, but now she has the tools to help make that home flourishthan ever It s a lovely ending to a lovely book, and as I just recently discovered that there are two sequels, you may have to listen to me talk about them sometime in the near future.About the Author from MacmillanShannon Hale s mother says she was a storyteller from birth, jabbering endlessly in her carriage as the two strolled through the neighborhood once she could form complete sentences, she made up stories, bribing her younger siblings to perform them in mini plays When she was ten, she began writing books, mostly fantasy stories where she was the heroine, and she continued writing secretly for years while pursuing acting in stage and improv comedy After detours studying in Mexico, the U K., and Paraguay, Shannon earned a bachelor s degree in English from the University of Utah and a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Montana In the interim, she submitted short stories and novels to magazines and publishers, saving all her rejection letters which she has since laminated into one continuous 60 foot roll which she proudly unfurls to audiences as a testament to her dedication and determination Since the publication of her first book, The Goose Girl, in 2003, Shannon has become a beloved author to young readers as well as booksellers and educators Her third novel, Princess Academy, earned her a Newbery Honor and is a New York Times, Book Sense, and Publishers Weekly bestseller Shannon has also written books for adults, Austenland and The Actor and the Housewife Shannon lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, Dean, their children, and their pet, a small plastic pig 3.5 stars If only If only my eleven year old younger self had read this book I know she would ve shrieked with happiness at holding Princess Academy against her innocent little heart Miri and younger Lola might ve shared a stronger andvivid level of connection and this latter probably would ve eagerly pressed five stars as rating Well, it certainly isn t every day that I refer to myself in the 3rd person But I m not eleven any, and, even if I enjoy some middle grade and younger r 3.5 stars If only If only my eleven year old younger self had read this book I know she would ve shrieked with happiness at holding Princess Academy against her innocent little heart Miri and younger Lola might ve shared a stronger andvivid level of connection and this latter probably would ve eagerly pressed five stars as rating Well, it certainly isn t every day that I refer to myself in the 3rd person But I m not eleven any, and, even if I enjoy some middle grade and younger reads from time to time, I will never feel the same way when reading them as I feel toward Young Adult novels, my favorite genre Why I do still read these books aimed to children is for the fluffiness, cuteness and fairytale omnipresent ambience that takes you to another dimension, one of dreams and endless possibilities Something I can rarely find in YA novels.And this happened to be a good example of a book giving me this opportunity I mean, princess stories, if they are of your taste, are wonderful to plunge into and read Miri as a heroine lacked maturity though I don t know if it is my own fault thinking that, since we obviously are not same age she is fourteen but she spoke without thinking oh so many times which equalled trouble, or in this context hand lashing and uncountable hours in the closet next to a rat I kept muttering for her to stop bluntly bursting out words and felt exasperated when she did so anyway, but that s the thing with MG novels You can t one hundred percent blame the young characters, since it s normal for them, due to their age, to make mistakes and it s usually in purpose for a character growth, which we very much could observe in this story.I ve read three Shannon Hale books so far The Storybook of Legends, The Goose Girl, Austenland and I realized that her style varies depending of the genre and type of book she is writing Probably, if you enjoyed the first two, you will feel the same for Princess Academy But if you ve only read Austenland, then you will find that this book is written differently with reason and a thank god muttered because Austenland was just a poorly written and confusing book I couldn t even finish it But the movie was enjoyable recommended The romance lovely presented istelf I m rarely into situations in which a character is in love with her his best friend but the author managed to make this one not sound clich or annoyingly cheesy They were good together and the chemistry evident This is not a book for everyone but it was short and sweet and actually not that predictable Sure, many situations made it easy for us to foresee their outcome, but some others contained plenty of surprises What I loved most about this book was the lyrical writing and relationship between Miri and Britta, whom she misjudged quite too quickly, and her own sister, Marda Incidentally, it was good to see original names for the characters Beautiful art source The Princess Academy is a favorite comfort read, and a delightful older middle grade younger YA fantasy, nominated for the 2006 Newbery Award Miri is a teenage girl living in a small, simple mountain village, where everyone makes a living quarrying a lovely marble rock that is found only on their mountain It s a sometimes harsh life, with everyone kind of scraping to get by, but filled with love and close friendships One day the simple life ends the priests of their country have mystically d The Princess Academy is a favorite comfort read, and a delightful older middle grade younger YA fantasy, nominated for the 2006 Newbery Award Miri is a teenage girl living in a small, simple mountain village, where everyone makes a living quarrying a lovely marble rock that is found only on their mountain It s a sometimes harsh life, with everyone kind of scraping to get by, but filled with love and close friendships One day the simple life ends the priests of their country have mystically divined that the prince is to marry a girl from their village The king s ministers, appalled that their prince needs to marry a rough and unsophisticated village girl, set up an academy, a day s hike down the mountain from the village, and force all the marriageable teenage girls in the village to go live there and be intensely tutored for a year, at which point the prince will arrive in great pomp, there will be a formal dance, and he ll choose his bride Yay Most of the story follows Miri and the other village girls as they deal with a harsh, cold head mistress of the academy, and the competition between them to be the head of the class which earns you the best dress at the princess ball, plus some other perks Miri deeply wants to be at the top of the class, but she s also conflicted because of her feelings for a boy back in the village.What I love about this book is that it s aboutthan just a competition to win the attention and heart of the prince It s also about friendship, the importance of education, and being a strong person and true to your heart There s some magic in it, though it s fairly subtle Highly recommended Read this instead of The Selection unless your main interest is in teen makeout scenes AUGUST 2012 Just re read technically re listened to this one in anticipation of the sequel coming out this month Loved this book all over again MAY 2007 So the latest books I ve read I haven t exactly enjoyed I mean, I do finish them and everything, so they must have been okay, but it s not like I was ever reaching for my book multiple times a day, binging on pages I ve kind of missed that.But all that changed with Princess Academy Seriously I loved this book I should probably on AUGUST 2012 Just re read technically re listened to this one in anticipation of the sequel coming out this month Loved this book all over again MAY 2007 So the latest books I ve read I haven t exactly enjoyed I mean, I do finish them and everything, so they must have been okay, but it s not like I was ever reaching for my book multiple times a day, binging on pages I ve kind of missed that.But all that changed with Princess Academy Seriously I loved this book I should probably only admit this through the relative anonymity of the Internet Seriously Princess Academy What am I, eleven Oh well This book is written for children Nevertheless, the writing was terrific I didn t feel like I was being led by the hand through the whole story, as some children s writing might must be one of the reasons it became a Newbury Honor book I thought the pacing was perfect key pieces of information were given a little at a time It is fairy tale ish, and happy endings abound, but none of those endings even the romance ended up being sickeningly unrealistic.I loved the themes of this book education as a key to opportunity, diplomacy to work through problems, kindness to all even when they don t seem to deserve it which leads to empathy and understanding.One of my favorite books I ve read this year, hands down

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