From the Stash is just my way to denote when something is from before Playing Jokers was established. I have been reviewing since January 2010 so I’d like to showcase some of that past work, as well as safeguard them.
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Series: Princess Academy #1
Published: April 17th 2007 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books (first published July 6th 2005)
Format/Source: Borrowed paperback from the library
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Originally reviewed: February 20, 2010
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, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.
I chose to read this book because it was the January 2010 pick for the YA Book Club. I didn’t get the chance to read it during that month, but I am so glad that I decided to read it anyways.
I was a little nervous about how the story would be with its larger than average font (though pretty average for the age group it is actually intended for) and from the title. But it is so well written. It is simple, yet the story is complex and kept me reading nonstop until I finished it. There is no question as to why it won the Newberry Award. As I was getting close to finishing it, I didn’t want to finish it because I was enjoying the characters so much.
It thankfully lacks the annoying angst of characters that I have found in a few other books similar to Princess Academy. The characters are well-developed and dynamic. Miri, the heroine, keeps you cheering for her throughout all the trials of the book.
I was a bit ashamed to be seen reading a young book in my classes at first, and its title was a bit embarrassing, but now I am completely confident that others would enjoy this read.