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STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

SCARS book cover

Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself--before it's too late.

Awards: #1 in the Top 10 ALA Quick Picks, ALA's Rainbow List, a Governor General Literary Award Finalist, Staff Pick for Teaching Tolerance.

Yes, it's my own arm on the cover of SCARS.

HUNTED book cover

Caitlyn, a telepath in a world where having any paranormal power at all can kill her, must decide between saving herself or saving the world.

Awards: A finalist for the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award.


Kate sees visions of the future--but only when she has an asthma attack. When she "sees" her sister being beaten, and a schoolmate killing herself, Kate must trigger more attacks--but that could kill her.

Awards: 2013 Gold Winner, Wise Bear Digital Awards, YA Paranormal category.

STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

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Teen Books That Have Something to Say

Goose Girl


Goose Girl
by Shannon Hale
ISBN-10: 1582349908

My rating:

Ani looked at the nearest swan straight in one eye. "No more bread. You must go."
The swan shrugged his wings again.
"What does that mean?"
"I don't think he speaks your language, duckling." The aunt turned her profile and one eye to the swan and made a sound like the swan spoke, not quite a honk and almost a wine. The swan paddled back to the pond.
Ani watched with a solemn expression and after a moment repeated the sounds she had heard. "Was that right?"
"Perfect," said the aunt. "Say that again."
She repeated the noise and smiled. The aunt looked at her thoughtfully, the corners of her mouth tight with suppressed excitement.
"Does that make you happy?" asked the aunt.
"Yes," said Ani.
--Goose Girl, Shannon Hale, p. 3-4.

Ani is born with the gift of communicating with birds and horses--but this is not something that her queen mother, or indeed her kingdom, approves of. Ani learns to hide the ways she is different, and she struggles to fit into her family and the duties she must bear as the crown princess. Selia, her lady-in-waiting, fits far better into the royal life than Ani does, and is helped by her gift of speech.

After Ani's father dies, Ani's mother sends her to a neighboring kingdom, Bayern, as a bride in an attempt to prevent a war--a fate that Ani does not want, but accepts. However, on the way there, Selia convinces most of the guards to turn on Ani, and Ani and her loyal guards are attacked, while Selia goes on to Bayern, posing as Ani and intending to take her place.

Selia makes her way to Bayern, and disguises herself, changes her name, and takes the lowly job of the goose girl for the castle. She finds herself hunted by Selia and her disloyal guards, and knows that they will try to kill her if she reveals herself. She continues to live her life as a servant, which helps her see the plight of the working-class people, and as a servant, she meets the prince and falls in love with him. Over time, must decide whether to face Selia and the guards, and take her rightful place, or remain in hiding.

This is an enjoyable and gripping adventure, made all the more so because Ani, the main character, is a likable, courageous character. [ with a strong sense of justice, who grows throughout the book.] Ani's gift of bird speech, and later with the wind, is an intriguing bit of magic, and her struggle to hone her gift on her own makes Ani all the more compelling. There is a nice sense of her growing into her own self and her own power throughout the book.

Ani is clearly kind, thoughtful, modest yet brave, and cares about injustices--a character the reader can easily identify with or like. At the same time, she has been made an underdog, and must struggle to regain what is hers, and this combination of a likeable character and a situation where the character must struggle helps the reader root for her. Although Ani often feels out of place and alone, and hunted by her enemies, there are enough kind people scattered throughout the story who are strong allies and who help her, that there is good feeling and a sense of hope and possible victory--and this can pull the reader along.

At times it feels like Ani is just letting herself be blown along by circumstances, but over time, as she changes and grows stronger, we see her come into her own self and her own plans.

Selia is a fine villain; she is Ani's equal, in that she has her own power, the power of speech or persuasion, and she uses it freely. She has no compunction about killing Ani or anyone who helps Ani. She makes a worthy adversary, and in this story, does not seem over-the-top or flat. Instead, we see her jealousies and rage at the unfairness of their positions, and though we judge her for her actions, we are meant to. Selia's character makes us root all the more for Ani.

The novel has a quaint, fairy-tale feel to it, clearly set in long-ago time, with different customs and beliefs, even between kingdoms, that are well described. Good details throughout the book help make the setting more vivid. There are clues laid out for the reader to pick up on that may help the reader guess might come next, and this can help add to the enjoyment. There is a nice movement of characters and plot, some good plot twists, vivid emotion throughout the book, a nice balance of painful moments and positive ones.

At some points the book seems to drift away from the plot and action, with too many characters and description, and not enough movement, but for the most part the book moves along well. The main character is a strong female character, one that readers will want to root for. The ending is satisfying, all the more because Ani has finally acted for herself and for others. This is an enjoyable, satisfying read. Readers who find themselves disappointed at coming to the end of the book have two more books in a planned series to look forward to.

-Added July 2005

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