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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

Palace of Stone (Princess Academy)

Palace of Stone - Shannon Hale Unfortunately I have only read one other book by Shannon Hale, and it wasn’t the original Princess Academy novel. (Book of a Thousand Days, actually.) And if I hadn’t been under a deadline, I would have probably gone out and gotten the first novel before reading this one. Having said that, I was so completely charmed by this book that I have to go get the first novel the next time I’m out at a bookstore *despite* being spoiled for some of the plot twists. I want more of this story; I want to find out what happened before and what’s going to happen next.I do really like Miri, she’s exactly the kind of heroine I want in all of m books—headstrong, intelligent, kind but will stand up and show her backbone. I love that she tries to find solutions that will not only support her friend Britta, but will also help the poor of Asland and revolutionize the social structure. Even though the majority of students at Queen’s College and the Aslandian nobles are quick to dismiss Miri as a naïve mountain girl, she very quickly proves them wrong. Also, I adore her relationship with Peder—I guessed that they would end up betrothed by the end, but they’re just too adorable and I love their whole relationship.But I really adored Miri’s friendships the most. (This is the big reason why I need the first book now.) Even though her interactions with the other girls from Mount Eskel are limited, the moments we got in this book were fantastic and really highlighted how close these girls are. And even though we didn’t get to see everyone interact (to the point where I was confused about who was who; again, see above), it felt natural that these girls wouldn’t have as much time for one another if they’re off working on their skills. But when things begin to escalate, they’re all willing to put their lives on the line for each other.I also really liked Miri’s uneasiness and being swept up by the sophistication of being at Queen’s College. She’s very naïve to the place of nobility in the lowlands, and I can see why she’s swept up in the idea of revolution—but she also realizes that Britta, despite being a noble, hasn’t had it as easy as people think. This is why Timon really works for me—I hate him, as he refuses to acknowledge the reality of the situation even after Miri explains everything to him and doesn’t consider that “Hey this is a person I want to see dead.” I can see why Miri would be caught up in Timon’s ideals and then ultimately reject him.The revolution is the strongest part of the whole book. Hale isn’t afraid to address the change, politics and complexities of both and she does so without talking down to her audience or making her points in clear black and white sentiments. Even near after the resolution of having the king listen to his subjects and not the money-grubbing officials, Hale doesn’t have the situation all wrapped neatly in a bow, and it’s hinted that there’s a long way to go before true changes are implanted. But there’s a start, and I loved the very hopeful tone at the end of the book. The only real complaint I have about the revolution are Lady Sisela’s and Liana’s roles in supporting it, which essentially boil down to “Well, the king/prince didn’t choose me, so the queen/Britta should die!” I felt the revolutionaries like Timon—the newly rich members of the middle class—were more genuine and realistic.Despite going into this completely blind and very limited exposure to Hale’s work (which is going to be rectified, trust me), I was enchanted right from the beginning and desperately need to read more now. (If there’s a book three, make about Frid! I loved her.) It’s a very intelligent read that manages to be absolutely delightful and doesn’t stoop to stereotypes or expectations of the intended audience. (And y’know, go read the first book if you haven’t already.)