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Another phenomenal book by Shannon Hale. This time she retells the little-known Brother’s Grimm tale entitled: “Maid Maleen.” Dashti is a maid who, along with her mistress Lady Saren, is imprisoned by the Lady’s father in a tower for 7 years. Dashti keeps a record of their time in the tower–her book of a thousand days. When their supplies begin to run low, and enemies threaten from the outside, Dashti must find the courage to save them both from certain death.

Hale writes fairy tales, but her stories seem real. Her characters–their culture, languages, traditions and lands–come to life as you read. You won’t be disappointed by this fine addition to Hale’s collection.

Enna Burning

10th June 2006

Enna BurningI had high hopes for this book, as it is a companion book to Goose Girl, which I loved. The first few chapters were pretty good, but after that, it was a struggle to finish.

Enna’s brother Leifer discovered the secret of fire speaking,, but his gift soon gets out of his control. When Enna makes the choice to learn as well, she is convinced that she can master the language and use it to protect her country. But as with her brother, the gift is soon too much for her to contain. I did like how the story ended, but it took way too long to get there.

The Goose Girl

19th April 2006

The Goose GirlThe Goose Girl is one of those books that is hard to put down once you’ve been drawn into the story. The plot is fairly straightforward–it’s a retelling of a Grimm’s fairytale in which a princess is sent to marry a prince whom she’s never met, for the sake of uniting their kingdoms. But this tale isn’t completely predictable. There are several good twists and turns, and when the villains appear, they are truly bad. I enjoyed this book even more than Hale’s Newberry winning book – Princess Academy.

Princess Academy

02nd March 2006

Although Miri lives in a remote village of stonecutters, she is forbidden by her father to participate in the work of the village. While the rest of the teenagers and adults go off to work in the quarry each day, Miri must stay behind. When a messenger of the king comes to town with the news that the prince is looking for a wife from their tiny village, everything changes. Miri and the other young ladies must leave their home and go into training as potential princesses.

Princess Academy (Newbery Honor Book)This Cinderella-type story was very entertaining. Miri is a strong, likeable heroine, and her growth as a person far outshadows the importance of romance in her life. Some of my favorite parts of the book were the poems that began each chapter. They were short, simple verses that gave a taste of what was to come. The first poem in particular is quite applicable to my feelings about this time of year:

The east says it’s dawn
My mouth speaks a yawn
My bed clings to me and begs me to stay
I hear a work song
Say winter is long
I peel myself up and then make away.