“Look no farther than your hand,
Make a choice and take a stand.”
– The Princess Academy
*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *
11. * Too Close, Too Soon by Talley and Reed – My dad read this book (along with a few others) to learn the proper way to date a girl. When he met my mom, she read it, too, so she’d understand where he was coming from. Knowing I would have to read it before I myself started dating (sort of an unspoken family rule, if you will 😉 ), I read it the summer after graduating from high school. Surprisingly, I liked it personally much more than I thought it would. I read it quickly as it was an easy read. I knew most of it beforehand because Dad had referenced it several times as we were growing up, but as I watched my own friends begin to date, it all started coming together. I saw what my friends did and suddenly knew why exactly they were either happy or unhappy in their relationship based on the knowledge the book had given me. If you’re looking for some insight and useful tips for how to date right with as few heartbreaks as possible, this book is for you!
12. Mr. Harrison’s Confessions by Elizabeth Gaskell – A novella by one of my favorite authors. The movie Cranford based on (gasp!) Cranford combined it with this story and My Lady Ludlow to flesh out the plot. The novella is narrated by Mr. Harrison who is telling a friend the story of how he met and fell in love with his wife. A very endearing story with many goofs along the way. I couldn’t put it down!
13. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park – We listened to this one on audiobook during a summer road trip to Canada. It was our first book by Linda Sue Park and we have listened to several others since then. We love Korean history and culture and this story did not disappoint. Park’s understanding of the power of a simple story is showcased in all her books. As for a A Single Shard, focuses on a boy who’s determined to make his master proud and is willing to risk everything rather than have his master’s reputation ruined. That kind of high respect for elders is something western culture could certainly learn from.
14. * The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale – This was by far one of the best books I read in 2016. I read it while writing Bridget Returns and it actually helped teach me how to write a long-distance romance that is still satisfying even when we only get one person’s perspective–something I was struggling with in my own novel. It was also one of the most original princess stories I’d read in a while. This book taught me that more than one girl can be princess-worthy and sometimes our princes come without a crown. The plot twist at the end also left me gaping. I have yet to read the next two in the trilogy, but I greatly look forward to!
15. My Lady Ludlow by Elizabeth Gaskell – This is the novella I mentioned above that was also used as inspiration for certain characters in the Cranford film. Just like Mr. Harrison’s Confessions, I thoroughly enjoyed this short and easy read. I loved watching a stubborn old lady stuck in her narrow-minded ways change because of the generosity and determination of a man, the patience of a woman and the needs of a boy. There is nothing I love more than a world and characters crafted by Gaskell.
* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them