Forest Born

Title: Forest Born
Author: Shannon Hale
Series: The Books of Bayern, 4/4
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: September 1, 2009

Note: This post reviews the fourth book of The Books of Bayern series. You may like to read the first three books in the series, The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, and River Secrets before reading this review.

Rinna knows there is something different about herself – but she has no idea what it is, or what it means. Having spent her entire life in the forest, she feels comfortable amongst the trees. She begins to realize that she can listen to the trees, and learn from them. But her abilities go beyond tree-speaking. Like Isi’s animal-speaking, and Enna’s fire-speaking, and Dasha’s water-speaking, Rin learns that she has a speaking power of her own – and it comes with a power more dangerous than she ever could have known.

These three girls she has come to think of as “the fire sisters” set off on a quest of their own when the kingdom of Bayern has been threatened once again. Rin joins them, desperate to get to the bottom of the speaking power rising inside herself. The four women with the speaking powers may be Bayern’s only hope of victory against the kingdoms who plot against them.

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River Secrets

Title: River Secrets
Author: Shannon Hale
Series: The Books of Bayern, 3/4
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: January 1st, 2006

Note: This post reviews the third book of The Books of Bayern series. You may like to read the first two books in the series, The Goose Girl and Enna Burningbefore reading this review.

The kingdoms of Bayern and Tira are far from peaceful. The war between them a year ago left both kingdoms hating the other. In an attempt toward peace, the kingdoms each send ambassadors to the other kingdom, along with trusted members from court. Razo, friend to his king and queen, cannot for the life of him understand why he has been chosen to be among those sent to Tira. Never having been strong, or tall, or particularly useful in battle, he goes reluctantly, feeling like anyone would have been a better choice than he.

When he arrives in Tira, only to learn that mysterious murders are underway, he realizes that he might just have a part to play for Bayern after all. Using his own skill set as a rather resourceful spy, Razo is determined to uncover the mystery behind the murders. But will the beautiful Dasha, liason of Tira, who has caught his eye, help or hinder his mission?

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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!

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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.

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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 not 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 – Astrid, Felissa, and Sus – are to successfully complete their training. But this training is only the beginning of a long and dangerous journey. The security of more than one kingdom rests on the shoulders of these three, underestimated sisters.

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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 two homes?

I enjoyed this sequel to Princess Academy, but not quite as much as the first.

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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 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. 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!

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