Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. Clearly if I'm going to read fanatasy, I prefer darkness and violence to sunshine and princesses. I liked Hale's earlier book, The Goose Girl, but this one was just a little too girly for me.
Hale is into people with abilities to communicate in unique ways--in The Goose Girl the main character could communicate with animals, and in Princess Academy Miri can communicate with others by means of a certain kind of rock in the mountain on which she lives. The princess part comes in because someone has determined that the prince's bride will come from the territory in which Miri lives, so all the girls between 12 and 17 spend the winter learning princessing skills.
Hale did have a couple of surprises in store for us, and she does have a nice feminist sensibility. Her girl main characters aren't mindlessly waiting for their princes to come. I'm just not that into fantasy.
In Case Anyone Was Worried About Me
Yesterday I reported that earlier this week I realized that the chapter I'd been working on for nearly a month just didn't belong in the book I'm working on. Some of you might have felt, oh, how awful for poor Gail. Well, not to worry. In two days I polished off a chapter that does fit into this book, and I have a good plan and start on the last chapter. If I can get this done by the end of the month, I can happily get started on National Novel Writing Month.