Enna Burning

Title: Enna Burning
Author: Shannon Hale
Series: The Books of Bayern, 2/4
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: September 1st 2006

Note: This post reviews the second book of The Books of Bayern series. You may like to read the first book in the series, The Goose Girlbefore reading this review.

When Enna first realizes that her brother can channel and control fire, she is certain that it is a power that can only lead to destruction. That is, until she learns that she, too, has the same ability to wield fire. As the kingdom of Bayern lies on the edge of defeat, her newly discovered abilities may have the power to save her kingdom and everyone she loves from the attack of Tira. But Enna must find a way to control her gift before it consumes her completely.

Though Enna Burning is the second book of this series, they can be read as stand-alone stories. However, since the characters in this book are first introduced in The Goose Girl, I recommend starting there. Shannon Hale is a favorite of mine in this genre, but this story didn’t grab me as much as some of her other books have. Having said that, it was still a fun read, and I look forward to reading the next two books in this series!

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Author: Marie Kondo
Genre: Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Release Date: January 15th, 2011

For those of you who regularly keep up with this book review blog (thank you, by the way!), you will notice right away that this week’s review is a step away from my usual reads. This is due to the fact that life is officially getting insane with the holidays, NaNoWriMo (anyone else writing 50,000 this month? I salute you.), and Nutcracker craziness at my dance studio. I needed a quick break to reset before the holiday madness. Anyone else?

The need for a reset, not just in my home but in my life as well, prompted me to pick up this book for yet another read. I first read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing last year around this time. Recognizing the stress that builds up around this time of year, I decided to pick it up again for a thorough read-through, highlighting all the way. Even though The KonMari Method is supposed to be a one-time decluttering experience, I admit that I didn’t do it thoroughly the first time I read it. But this is the year that I will team up with my hubby and set our home in order!

The KonMari Method boils down to deciding the things in your home that you really love, the things that “spark joy,” and respectfully discarding the rest. (The exception to this statement are the things we need for our jobs, our health, etc.) I love the idea of being surrounded by the things I really love, not by things I thought I needed but actually don’t. When we rid our homes of all the excess, we realize how much we truly need in order to live a happy life. When we let go of things we have needlessly held on to, we are able to process our past in a healthy way and live for the here and now. This can also help empower us to go after the future we want for ourselves. And by giving your house a detox, you give your life one as well.

This book is the book for you if you are looking to get down to the basics of your life, and free yourself of anything that might be holding you back. There is a reason tiny house living is so appealing to me: living a simple, uncluttered life. This is achievable for all living spaces, no matter the size. I read through this book in one sitting quite easily both times. It’s the perfect read for a weekend afternoon, but make sure you leave yourself time to jump off the couch and begin setting your home in order, because that is exactly what you will want to do!

Click on the link below to get your copy of this book:

The Goose Girl

Title: The Goose Girl
Author: Shannon Hale
Series: The Books of Bayern, 1/4
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: May 1, 2005

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, or Ani as she goes by, is the Princess of Kildenree. Though she is uncomfortable speaking with people, she has a talent for communicating with animals. During her journey to marry the prince of a foreign land, her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting commits an unthinkable crime – she forces the Crown Princess to switch places with her, convincing those traveling with them to switch allegiances as well. Ani finds herself robbed of her position and forced to assume the identity of a servant.

Ani becomes a lowly servant of the king – a goose girl – while the king and prince are fooled by her own deceitful lady-in-waiting. She does not lose heart, however, and continues to use her ability to communicate with the creatures around her. Her heart still leads her to the prince who was destined to be hers all along. But will she be able show her character and true identity, despite those who are working against her?

The Goose Girl will always be one of my favorite Shannon Hale books. Prince Geric is pretty great, but it’s Ani unbreakable spirit that makes this story truly amazing.

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters

Title: Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters
Author: Shannon Hale
Series: Princess Academy, 3/3
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: March 3rd, 2015

Note: This post reviews the third book of the Princess Academy series. You may like to read the first two books in the series, Princess Academy and Princess Academy: Palace of Stonebefore reading this review.

After a year of life in the lowlands, Miri is more than ready to return with her friends to her home on Mount Eskel. But just as she is about to leave the palace, the king sends her on an assignment that will take her far from her home, and far from Asland. Her assignment: to start a princess academy of her own in a swamp land. The student has become the teacher.

Miri is intimidated enough at the prospect of running her very own princess academy, but she is no where near prepared for what awaits her in the swamp. Her students, three cousins of the royal family, are not what she expected and a far cry from princesses-in-training. Miri must use all her knowledge from the princess academy and the Queen’s Castle if these girls are to successfully complete their training. But as she spends more time with the sisters, she begins to realize that not everything is as it seems.

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

Title: Princess Academy: Palace of Stone
Author: Shannon Hale
Series: Princess Academy, 2/3
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: August 21, 2012

Note: This post reviews the second book of the Princess Academy series. You may like to read the first book in the series, Princess Academybefore reading this review.

Miri and her friends are eager to journey down the mountain and help the princess prepare for the upcoming wedding. As Britta’s ladies-in-waiting, Miri and her friends get to live at the palace in Asland – a far cry from the humble life they know in Mount Eskel. On top of that, Miri gets to study as a scholar, and is introduced to a world she never knew existed.

But there is trouble happening in Asland – and Miri finds herself right in the middle of it. During the rising revolution, Miri realizes that she supports the oppressed of Danland, but also her friend who is marrying into the royal family. To make matters more complicated, Miri is drawn to both Timon – a revolutionary enthusiast – and Peder – her childhood friend, and sweetheart. Will she be able to choose between two opposing sides, two loves, and also two homes?

I enjoyed this sequel to Princess Academy, but there are a couple reasons I gave it only 4 roses. 1: I’m really not a fan of love triangles, and this story had a pretty pointed one. 2: This book’s overall feel was so different from Hale’s first book, it almost didn’t feel like the same series. (To be fair, the settings play a huge part in this. The first takes place on an isolated mountain – which I loved – and the second takes place in a crowded city in the middle of a revolution.) But still, a very enjoyable read from Shannon Hale!

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

Princess Academy

Title: Princess Academy
Author: Shannon Hale
Series: Princess Academy, 1/3
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: June 16, 2005

A simple life on Mount Eskel is all Miri has ever known. That is, until one day when her village receives word that the prince of Danland will be choosing a bride – from her very village. All eligible girls are ordered to attend a princess academy in the hopes of becoming suitable enough to catch the prince’s eye.

Miri is not sure she wants to be a princess, mostly because of her feelings for her childhood friend, Peder. During her time away at the princess academy, she begins to see the possibilities of a life outside of Mount Eskel. In addition to learning etiquette and poise, the girls learn the ways of commerce and diplomacy, and of course, how to read. But Miri’s learning and training equip her for more than just a shot at becoming a princess – she will help her village in a way she never could have dreamed of, and save the princess academy from an unforeseen threat.

I read the first two books of the Princess Academy series when I was younger, and I am happy to say that I enjoyed it just as much – okay, if not more – as an adult. I love this story of a simple, mountain girl thrown into princess training. This book has a lot going for it, too. Themes of family, friendship, and young romance are displayed in a thoughtful, beautiful way, which is why this book works for so many ages. Shannon Hale is among my favorite writes of YA fiction!

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

The Princess Tales, Volume Two

Title: The Princess Tales, Volume Two
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Series: The Princess Tales, 2/2
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: February 17th, 2004

Note: Even though this is Volume Two of two, The Princess Tales is a collection of stand-alone novellas. Characters from the other novellas are referenced so you may like to stay in order, but it is not necessary. 

The contest to marry the princess seems impossible – the victor must ride up a hill made made entirely out of glass. Cinderellis, commoner though he be, believes one of his beautiful horses might be up to the task. In Cinderellis and the Glass Hill, our hero must use his own resourcefulness, not just magic, to be with the one he loves.

For Biddle’s Sake is a retelling of The Frog Prince. Parsley’s smile is just about the most beautiful thing there is, even after her fairy-guardian accidentally turns her into a frog. When a prince happens to need her help, Parsley realizes that the kiss of true love may be more in reach than she thought.

Lark and Robin are perfect for each other – except for the fact that she is a princess and he is a baker’s son. Despite their efforts to be together, their families will not allow it. But is The Fairy’s Return powerful enough to change that? Can the fairy Ethelinda make a way for these two lovebirds?

This collection of novellas is a fun, light read. I recommend it for any fellow fans of Gail Carson Levine, as well as fans of princess tales, like myself!

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the other in its series: