I might as well keep track of this on my blog:
1. Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
2. Locked Inside by Nancy Werline
3. Chew Volume 1: Taster’s Choice by John Layman and Rob Guillory
4. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale – Since I haven’t reviewed this yet, I may as well write something short about it. In the shortest kind of short, I LOVED it and must read more by Hale. This is a book with a back-seat romance (as are all of the books I’ve read so far this year, actually) and features really strong female friendships. I wish I lived in a world where strong female friendships were commonplace enough that it wouldn’t be a huge plus that this book features them, but c’est la vie. Princess Academy is a fantasy, but the magic is so laid-back that it’s almost non-existent, which is refreshing. I’ve noticed that I dislike talking about plot or many specifics, probably because I think it’s generally more fun and illuminating to read books where you don’t know much about.
But, if you’re dying to know, Miri (the protag) lives in Mount Eskel with her da and older sister. Mount Eskel is a mining town, and everybody participates in mining the precious linder stone. Everyone, that is, except Miri. Born early and always weak, her father won’t let her work in the quarry like the rest of the village. Instead she tends the house and her family’s goats, but she wants for nothing more than to be of help to the village by working in the quarry. Then, one trading day, a delegate from the capital comes. The priests, according to ancient tradition, have divined that the new princess will come from Mount Eskel. And so they gather all the girls of the appropriate age into a building a few hour’s walk from the village and start to teach them everything they need to know to become a princess, starting with how to read. In a year’s time, the prince will come and choose his bride. How will Miri cope with all of these changes? For a girl who has barely had thoughts outside of Mount Eskel and her family, the world is starting to look awfully big. Are these lowlanders telling the truth? Could she really be… a princess?
Those last few sentences point to one of my favorite parts of the book, namely Miri’s intellectual blossoming. It would be so easy to do that in a cheesy way, but Hale doesn’t fall into any cliched traps. Miri’s struggles with her newfound knowledge and her neverending love of her family and home are completely convincing and well before the book is through, you’ll be cheering for her, and the rest of the girls at the Academy, and the whole of Mount Eskel. Hale also ties up the book very satisfactorily. There was one plot thread that came together rather quickly at the end, but I am honestly so pleased with how everything turned out, I just don’t care!