Larson, M.L. Pennyroyal Academy
October 7th 2014 by Putnam Juvenile
A girl stumbles about in the forest, wrapped in spider webs, with just a note that she should go to Pennyroyal Academy, an institution that trains young women of royal blood to fight witches. Luckily, since there is a war on, they are taking girls even if they don't have a pedigree, so Cadet Eleven (or Evie, as her first friend decides she should be called) earns a place. She has been befriended by the handsome prince Remington, whom most of the students swoon over, but is given a hard time by another boy, Calhoun. Evie is glad to be training, but she finds out some disturbing news about her past, finding her birth mother and secrets about how she was separated from her and raised. Will this information prevent Evie from fighting in the war that is overtaking the kingdom?
Strengths: For readers who have read all of the Tamora Pierce books, this would be a good choice. The princesses are all strong and daring, and there's lots of action and adventure. Medievalish setting, a bit of romance, some mean girls, family drama.
Weaknesses: I don't know that we need more medieval fantasy books. With maps. This also had some moments of cognitive disconnect for me-- some of the chapter headings had a silhouette that looked just like Barbie, and the tailor, Rumpledshirtsleeves, was always proclaiming how fashion could harness the power of the princess and bring out her true power and self... just seemed a bit odd.
And LOOKEE!! I think I'm doing okay for this year. I have read a few short nonfiction and picture books, but the vast majority of what I read are middle grade novels!