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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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!

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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. 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 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. 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!

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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. 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!

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Ever



Title: Ever
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Mythology, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: May 6th, 2008

Kezi is a beautiful dancer, a skilled rug weaver – and a mortal. And because of a vow her father made to their god in desperation, she only has 30 days to live. To make her life even more complicated, she falls in love – with an immortal god. Olus, the god of winds, believes that he can help Kezi escape her impending fate; together, they risk everything to find a way to be together, and to save Kezi before she must make the ultimate sacrifice.

Told in a style different than the rest of her fairytales, Ever switches back and forth from Kezi’s to Olus’ point of view, giving us an enriched understanding of both characters. Levine’s Mesopotamian setting is also a step away from her usual fairytales, and gravitates more toward ancient mythology. I find it fascinating that Ever was inspired by the Old Testament story of Jephthah and his daughter, found in Judges 11:30-40. This was a fun read, especially if you are already a fan of Gail Carson Levine.

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Fairest


Title: Fairest
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: September 19th, 2006

Aza is an unlikely heroine, especially for a Snow White fairytale retelling. She is awkward, clumsy, and convinced she is far from beautiful. But her voice is truly the fairest of them all. Her magical singing gets her noticed by many in the kingdom of Ayortha, including the royal family.

When she goes from being an innkeeper’s daughter to the queen’s lady-in-waiting, Aza realizes her beautiful voice could put her in more danger than she ever could have known. She must navigate the attentions of the charming prince, Ijori, and the jealous new queen, while keeping secrets of her own.

In my opinion, Gail Carson Levine can do no wrong in her magical world of storytelling! I love her books, but my only problem with them is there are not enough.

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