Thursday, August 28, 2008

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Copyright 2005
Bloomsbury Publishing
Fiction/Young Adult Fantasy
336 pages
Author's website

Everyone groaned and complained, and Miri knew she should be miserable, too, but instead she felt wrapped up and hidden, a bright secret in a magpie's nest. She stared at the white nothingness outside the classroom window, cozy with her discovery of quarry-speech and anxious to understand it more.

Just by admitting she had them, the secrets pushed inside her, a snowmelt stream against a fallen branch, and the desire to share swept over her. She hesitated. Would Britta believe her? Or would she laugh? Miri thought of Dotor's saying, Never hesitate if you know its right. After months of ignoring Britta just for being a lowlander, at least she deserved Miri's trust.

Dotor always said, Thinking it's impossible makes it so. . . . Miri shoved her doubts away.

What led you to pick up this book? It was a total impulse purchase. I was looking for something light. The word "princess" is always a grabber and the book just happened to be on my mental wish list. I bought it while in Tulsa and started reading immediately.

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. Miri lives with her family on the slopes of Mount Eskel, where villagers work at pounding out the linder stone from the mountain. Small and delicate, Miri is not allowed to help in the quarry, for reasons unknown to her. When a chief delegate from the lowlands brings news that one of the local girls will be chosen as the future princess and all girls between the ages of 12 and 17 must attend a makeshift academy in preparation for royal life, Miri finds joy in learning and becomes involved in a fierce competition for the single spot as academy princess. But, does she really want to marry a total stranger? And, what exactly causes the fascinating connection between villagers known as "quarry-speech?"

What did you like most about the book? I liked many different facets of this book. I loved the fact that Miri loved learning, that I couldn't quite decide whether or not I wanted her to be princess (much less what she thought). The quarry-speech concept was fascinating and I loved the connections between people -- for better or worse, but especially the warmth of her family.

What did you think of the characters? They were a nice, well-rounded bunch. The friendships and in-fighting were believable. Some of the families were tight-knit, some not so. I thought the character development was excellent.

Share a favorite scene from the book. There were several wonderful action scenes, but I think one of my favorite moments was when Miri was let out of a closet after being punished for so long that she fell asleep on the floor of the closet and awoke to the horrifying sensation of a rat tugging on her hair. The reason she was released warmed my heart.

Recommended? Absolutely. I loved this book. I'd especially recommend to people who love fantasy with realistic characters and those who enjoy Young Adult books with a solid thematic element. It's comfortable reading but it's not completely lightweight. There are some really tense moments that I truly enjoyed. Love that edge-of-your-seat sensation.

Thanks to all who have left messages wishing us a fizzled storm!! Gustav is looking scary, at this point, so our thoughts and prayers are with those in Florida and all along the Gulf Goast, in the path of Gustav. We've bought battery-operated fans, batteries and some dry foods in Oklahoma, knowing the shelves will be bare at home. We always keep plenty of water during hurricane season, so that's one thing we don't have to worry about. In case of power outage, I'm going to assume I may not be online until about Wednesday, so I wish everyone a terrific week and happy reading!!


  1. I might just have to check this out for my daughter. It sounds like it would keep her interest, so thanks for the heads up.

    And speaking of heads up, I hope you keep yours during the storm. Please send up a flare if you need help.

  2. Just stopping by to check on you Nancy! Glad to see that you're in Oklahoma!! Stay safe and keep us updated if you can. We're heading to Baton Rouge in the morning :/ Don't know how safe that is but it has to be better than New Orleans, right?

  3. I'd like to read one of Shannon Hale's books one day like Goose Girl or Princess Academy! Have you read anymore of Hale's books? :)

  4. I had placed this one on my wish list some time ago with the Once Upon a Time Challenge in mind. I've never gotten around to it, but maybe now that you've renewed my interest, I will.

    Hoping for the best for you and all of those along the Gulf coast! Our daughter and grandkids arrived from Baton Rouge yesterday for an extended Labor Day visit as Governor Jindal has closed all of the schools in the state and mandatory evacuation of N.O. is now in effect.

  5. Take good care, Nancy!!

  6. I so have to read this book! I know what you mean about it being a comforting but not completely lightweight read. That's how I felt about The Goose Girl. And judging from her other books I've read, Shannon Hale is indeed great that character development.

    I really hope Gustav doesn't cause too much trouble over there!

  7. This sounds like an excellent book! I've never read anything by Hale, but all of the reviews I've read are very positive. I'm thinking I need to add more YA ficton to my reading!

    I just heard that Gustav was downgraded one category, so hopefully that trend will continue.

  8. Gustav does look pretty scary! Fingers still crossed it somehow manages to peter out.
    Some parts of Japan (not in our area) have flooded with all the heavy rain we've had lately and that's without any strong wind. Crazy weather!

  9. Good luck, Nancy! My thoughts and prayers are with all of you in Gustav's path. Rotten storms.


  10. Take care and let us know how your doing, ok? Oh, and thanks for the review. I purchased this book a while back but it still sits on my bookshelf, unread.

  11. Aw geez. I might be reading a YA novel. It sounds entertaining and well written.

    Doesn't look as if Gustav is going to fizzle out in the Gulf. Hopefully everyone will safely get through it.

  12. I have been in two minds about this book having loved The Goose Girl and now Enna Burning. Thanks for your review, I thin it just pushed me over the edge to read it :)

  13. Cupcake,

    I hope your daughter enjoys the book. It took me a while to get into it (could have been fatigue), so I'd advise her to have patience with the beginning, but it really does pick up and especially becomes exciting when the bandits show up.

    So far so good on the weather! It's blowing a little, outside, and has cooled off. But, the guys loaded a couch from my mother's house into the back of eldest's truck and didn't have to deal with rain! Yippee! I don't have any flares. Would a flashlight do? ;)


    I'm always so glad to see you! We're back in Vicksburg, now. A few limbs have fallen, but it's just a touch windy, here. I think Baton Rouge looks worse than N.O. -- hope you guys are doing okay. I agree; it never hurts to go inland a bit. Doesn't look like another Katrina, thank goodness, but it's wise to be safe!!! Take care!


    Princess Academy is the first Shannon Hale book I've read, but now I can't wait to read more. I've got a copy of Goose Girl on my shelf and Enna Burning is on my wish list. :)


    I really enjoyed Princess Academy, although it took a while to get into it (possibly because I was so tired when I began to read). Definitely go for it during the next challenge!

    I didn't realize you were so far north till I asked my husband, last night. Sounds like a good place for your relatives to hang out. Baton Rouge looks like it's going to be getting pretty wet.

    Thank you, Les!

    We had a good drive home (I drove all but the first half hour) and unloaded in nasty heat and humidity but without any rain. Couldn't have asked for more than that! :)

  14. Nymeth,

    I'm glad to hear Goose Girl is just as good at character development and not lightweight. You have to appreciate an author who can keep a YA story readable without becoming too simplistic, don't you?

    The wind chimes are making music, so the wind has picked up -- but, so far we've gotten nothing major. Thanks for the wishes! Looks like Gustav did fizzle out a bit. Wahoo! :)


    I've got Goose Girl on my shelf and Enna Burning on my wish list because of the positive reviews I've read. When I picked up Princess Academy, I just remembered it was on my wish list. I didn't pay attention to the author till I got home, but I was happy to see that it was a book by an author I've been wanting to read. She didn't let me down -- definitely give her a try!

    Yep, Gustav fizzled a bit! So happy for everyone on the coast!! They didn't need to go through another Katrina. It's been three years and there are still plenty of people without permanent homes. I hope everything continues to peter out!!!


    This is that nutty weather time of year, I guess. :) We're prepared for a power outage (with our battery-operated fans, batteries, water, etc.), but so far we've just gotten cooler temps and a bit of wind. I'm hoping we only get a touch of wind and rain. We'll see! Gustav has definitely slowed down. Wahoo for that!!! :)


    Thank you! So far, so good! We're enjoying the cooler temps and I've been listening to my wind chimes. Nothing major has reached us and it might not. Gustav has petered out nicely. Thanks for the prayers!!

  15. Stephanie,

    We're cloudy, cooler and windy, but nothing major as of 9:30 in the morning. Gustav seems to be fizzling nicely. We are thrilled! Except maybe the kiddo, who was hoping for a few days off school. LOL

    I hope you enjoy your copy of Princess Academy. :)


    Hmmm, I can't decide whether or not I think you'd like Princess Academy. Might as well give it a try, though, right? ;)

    Gustav has fizzled a little, which we're all pleased about (I'm sure the refugees will also be happy). We've got weather on the TV and I'm watching the weather maps, here. Hurricanes can be kind of fun to watch when they're not hitting you directly. LOL


    This is my first Shannon Hale book, so I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Goose Girl and Enna Burning. I'll definitely read more of her writing. I expected Princess Academy to be a little on the fluffy side, but it wasn't at all. It was just a good story with great character development. Don't let the word "princess" scare you off! :)

  16. I read Goose Girl and was impressed for a YA novel. I checked out the Princess book from the library but I could not get into it either so I returned it without reading. I am interested in reading Enna Burning so maybe one day I will fit that one in. I just finished an absoultly amazing new YA novel called The Miracle Girls by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt. I highly recommend it. I ususally do not read this much YA but lately I have been receiving a lot to review. I have to admit I have been impressed with most of it. :)

  17. Brittanie,

    I had a little trouble with about the first 50 or so pages of Princess Academy, although I assumed it was because I was so tired from driving back and forth in Oklahoma. After a while, it does pick up. Everyone seems to enjoy Goose Girl and Enna Burning. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Goose Girl, too!

    I'll have to look up The Miracle Girls. I love YA books -- wish I was getting some for review, but I have plenty more of my own that still need to be read! :)

  18. I STILL haven't read anything by Hale. There have been a few books that have piqued my interest (not this one so much), but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

    Looks like poor NO is going to get hit the hardest with Gustav (or already has?). Glad you guys are safe and prepared! And hope your sister hasn't driven you absolutely crazy yet!

  19. Hey! Isn't it Bookfool's birthday today?! If so, Happy Birthday to you!! :) Hope it's a good one!

  20. Trish,

    Me, too. I actually thought Princess Academy was written by someone else -- didn't even look at the author till I got home and then I thought, "Oh, good! I've been wanting to read Shannon Hale." Goose Girl has intimidated me by its size a bit, but it's the one I've heard the most about. And, Enna Burning is on my wish list. I'm so glad I read this one.

    I was thinking maybe Baton Rouge was about to get the worst of it, but then the power flickered and I haven't seen weather for quite a few hours. Wouldn't it be something if CNN knew that book bloggers wished, thought and prayed Gustav into fizzling a bit and turning left? LOL

    Oh, hey, the sister was great! She was in in a terrific mood, all chipper and happy to see us moving things out of her way. She and my BIL helped us load up. It was all very pleasant! :)


    Yes, ma'am, it's my birthday. Thank you!

    I completely forgot about it till my MIL mentioned it. I got one gift, a book from my eldest. I'll have to post a pic of it, later on. It's been a great day -- nice and quiet, apart from some brisk wind and rain (but it's not dangerous wind -- it's really been kind of relaxing, a good day for reading). Hubby bought me a six-pack of birthday cupcakes at Kroger and I ate the purple-frosted one, green and purple being my favorite colors. The green somehow makes me think of Oobleck. LOL

    Thanks for remembering!! :)

  21. I've been meaning to try Hale. So many with similar reading tastes like her, so I think I would too. Just need to find the time...

    And HAPPY BIRTHDAY you! I'm glad you had a wonderful, fantabulous day.

  22. I see from the news that Gustav didn't hit you head on, but I hope that the storm didn't hurt you in any way. Good luck and I hope you're back online soon :)

  23. Heather,

    You must! I'm surprised you haven't read anything by Shannon Hale because she seems like your kind of author. You should definitely give her a try!!!

    Thank you. I had a nice, relaxing birthday. :)

    Gentle Reader,

    We're on the wet side of Gustav and it's still soggy, raining (pretty heavily, at the moment) and blowing out there; but, he fizzled enough that we only had some flickering (no complete loss of power -- wahoo!) and I spent most of yesterday curled up, reading. It was great. There have been enough power outages that kiddo is home from school; and, when we were out returning the rental truck there were mostly people getting gas for generators (not many people were out and about -- the refugees seem to be hunkered down in hotels and shelters). We're really happy to have not lost our power, for once!

  24. Oh thank you so much for this review! You know, I absolutely loved The Goose Girl and I enjoyed Enna Burning, but despite that I hadn't really thought much about reading this one. No idea why, but I just assumed it wouldn't be one for me. Bad, bad me...I must stop giving in to my ridiculous preconceived notions! Your review made it sound like a book I would really love...and the good news is, I know my daughter has it on her bookshelf!

  25. Debi,

    You're very welcome! I can't compare, of course, since this is my first Shannon Hale book; but, I think she deserved the Newbery and I am really looking forward to The Goose Girl, now!! I hope you enjoy Princess Academy as much as I did. How convenient that Annie already has it on the shelf! :)


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