Princess Academy

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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!

The Princess Tales, Volume One

Title: The Princess Tales, Volume One
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Series: The Princess Tales, 1/2
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: December 1st, 2003

Note: Even though this is Volume One 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. 

When a fairy gifts Rosella jewels falling from her mouth when she speaks, she doesn’t realize how problematic it will turn out to be. People begin taking advantage of her, especially greedy Prince Harold, forcing her to speak all the time, simply because of the wealth flowing from her lips. In The Fairy’s Mistake, Rosella must find a way to make this gift a blessing, rather than a curse, for the rest of her life.

Lorelei is the daughter of a humble peasant – with the tastes of a princess. Everything must be just-so for this picky, but sweet, girl. She doesn’t mean to be particular; it’s just the way she is. She accidentally finds herself at the castle amongst scores of princesses vying for the hand of the prince. If she can pass The Princess Testshe will get to marry the kind prince.

In Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep, Sonora is a princess who has it all – beauty, brains, kindness – but what she doesn’t have is friendship. No one likes to spend time with the know-it-all princess. Sonora knows she is destined to prick her finger and sleep for a hundred years, but she is still surprised when it happens. Even more surprising is the prince who awakens her, curious about this brilliant princess.

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:

Stolen Magic

Title: Stolen Magic
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Series: A Tale of Two Castles, 2/2
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: April 21, 2015

Note: This post reviews the second book of the A Tale of Two Castles series. You may like to read the first book in the series, A Tale of Two Castles, before reading this review.

Elodie travels back to her homeland with her master, the dragon Meenore, and her friend, the ogre Count Jonty Um. But they arrive in Lahnt to hear terrible news: the replica of their volcano – which keeps the real volcano from erupting – is missing. The only way to save the mountain is to find out who stole the replica, and return it before time runs out. Elodie, with the help of Meenore and Count Jonty Um, works tirelessly to unravel the mystery that surrounds the missing replica, risking their lives to save the people of Lahnt.

This book has a similar feel to the book before it. At times, it felt slow and was a little difficult to get through – probably because I don’t really gravitate towards mysteries. I still enjoyed it, because it’s almost impossible for me not to enjoy a book by Gail Carson Levine, but I still prefer her other fairytale stories!

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

A Tale of Two Castles


Title: A Tale of Two Castles
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Series: A Tale of Two Castles, 1/2
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: May 10th, 2011

Elodie travels to Two Castles with the intent of becoming an apprentice. Her dream is to become a mansioner – an actress – but when the master of the troupe turns her away, she must find work elsewhere. It seems that Meenore, a brilliant dragon and detective, is the only one who will take her as an apprentice. Elodie learns much from Meenore, particularly the art of induction and deduction.

These skills will help Elodie on her assigned case as she goes to the ogre’s castle as an undercover scullery maid. Elodie doesn’t know who she can trust at the castle – the shape-shifting ogre, the air-headed Princess who is to wed him, her greedy father the king? No one is dismissed from Elodie’s suspicions, and no one will be safe until she finds the suspect behind the mysteries at the castle.

This was a fun read. The mystery that carried this book made it different from Gail Carson Levine’s other stories. I was hoping for a bit of romance, because Levine is so good at them, but that was not the purpose of this book. I enjoyed seeing Elodie and Meenore – an unlikely pair – work together to solve the case. And, as the masterful storyteller that she is, Levine hides the villain in plain sight!

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