Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review - Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2)
Princess Academy: Palace of Stone
by Shannon Hale
336 pages
Expected publication: August 21st 2012 by Bloomsbury USA

Premise: Ganked from Goodreads:

Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she "should" help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city. 

Picking up where "Princess Academy" left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom.

My Review:

Ah..... Princess Academy came out in 2007. And won the Newberry. It's been too long since I first met Miri and her beloved mountain. I rave about it every chance I get. The content is appropriate for middle grade, but the writing style is delicious at every age. Which is rare.  And amazing.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Palace of Stone. The writing is like snuggling down into a huge pile of feathers and getting lost in the softness until you don't know which way's up.

I highlighted all over my Nook copy...
She felt night-blind and afraid, as if walking a path that might lead to sheer cliff and empty air. Pg 13
The lowlander traders always went on as if the ocean were the most wondrous thing in the world and the Eskalites were fools for living so far from its glory. But it was just a flat, lifeless sky. Pg. 18 
Miri did not want the moment to end. She felt tall and strong, as if she and this mob would move together like a giant, striking down any obstacles, remaking the whole world. Pg. 97 
They both stared. Neither ran.... And Miri understood the impulse to kiss the lips that laughed. Pg. 116 
His promises felt as real as paper in her hands, just awaiting the ink strokes of action. Pg. 141 
Letter writing was a lot like quarry-speaking - a soundless call from far away. Would Marda have similar enough memories to understand what Miri was trying to say? Pg. 146 
She smiled to show he was correct, but it slid off her lips too quickly. Pg 174 
She touched the wood. It was not as polished and well oiled as the Mount Eskel chapel doors. And perhaps not as well loved. With so many things to look at in Asland, who cared enough to love these doors? Pg. 203 
History was as hard to hold as a wet fish. Pg. 279 
Miri shook her head. "An idea is like a fire under ice. You can try to put out the fire, but the melting has already begun."
"Who made up that saying?" Frid asked. "Doter?"
"Um, no," said Miri. "Just me."
"It's pretty good," Frid said, squinting. "But I don't understand why there would be fire under ice. And Doter's sayings are shorter." Pg. 281

Throughout the story, Miri thinks about a painting of a girl pouring milk while looking out a window at a moon. As Miri changes, she sees changes in this girl, and I love this insight into Miri's heart when she doesn't know how she feels. I haven't shared any quotes about this painting, although I love every reference. They would give some of the story away, which I'm not gonna do!

The story is told from Miri's point of view, but there are many characters with depth and they are all so different, so fun. Peder is in town and Miri is shy around him because he hesitates to speak up for her, although she thinks he likes her. Timon is so full of ideas and secrets. He represents possibilities she never knew existed before. Britta has to prove herself all over again and she needs to come out purer than pure, but she's so shy!  I love Frid. Like all the Mount Eskal girls, she has mountain dust in her blood. She speaks her mind so refreshingly! Sisela has heart and passion, but what really motivates her revolutionary support? The king and queen seem like awkward decorations at first, but even they reveal reasons behind their blank expressions and harsh responses so that I'm cheering them on by the end. And always, Mount Eskel and its Linder stone permeate everything with such a strong pull I seriously LONG to go see that mountain!!!!

My Rating: 4.5 - Great book!  

The romance is hesitant and hopeful. The revolution feels historically close to what a revolution would be like. The details are just quick enough to draw me into the drama, but not bog down in history. The dangers are real and the responses all realistic. The writing is outstanding. Miri is wonderful - and so unique. If I heard her talking in any story anywhere, I would recognize her. I could swear Mount Eskel exists. It's not enough to visit, either... I want to live another life so I can grow up there, please!

Cover Commentary:  This cover matches the cover to Princess Academy and they both reflect Miri's youth. I think she's about 13 16 yrs. old. But this is not is not a modern world, and she's old enough to be betrothed not to mention study at the Queen's Academy, which feels like college. She also tackles ideas, matching wits with adults. So these covers do not represent the books clearly for me. I think I'd rather see that mountain!!  Lol. Ok, maybe I'm obsessed with the mountain. Can I just go now?!

About the Amazing Author:

My PhotoShannon Hale is the New York Times best-selling author of six young adult novels: the Newbery Honor book Princess Academy, multiple award winner Book of a Thousand Days, and the highly acclaimed Books of Bayern series. She has written three books for adults, including Midnight in Austenland (Jan. 2012), companion book to Austenland. She co-wrote the hit graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge and its sequel Calamity Jack with husband Dean Hale. They live near Salt Lake City, Utah with their four small children, and their pet, a small, plastic pig.

Find & Follow:

Breaking News!!

* Through August 14th, enter to WIN Palace of Stone for my Young Adult giveaway hop!!

* Reviews: CityWeekly; It's All About Books; Raving Reader; Kirkus Reviews; Deb's Bookshelf

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