In the middle of all the Armchair BEA goodness I almost forgot about my Utah Authors Month posts!
I can't let the month go by without mentioning one of the best-known middle grade authors from Utah: Shannon Hale. She's written about a dozen books, and has been around for awhile. But I hadn't read anything of hers until last year when I picked up Princess Academy.
Don't let the name fool you. It's not a silly book about dress up and tea parties. There are mean girls and a Snape-like teacher and drama and suspense and everything else. (also a prince) It blew me away with how good it was. If you only read one thing of hers, make it Princess Academy.
I also recently finished Book of A Thousand Days. It's a retelling of a fairy tale that you probably don't know. And there's a stinker girl, and some bad guys, and mistaken identity, and adventure. (also a prince)
The thing I like best about Hale's books is that the girl characters are awesome! They're in situations where they could give up, or be really weak. Instead they save the day. Also, they're incredibly literate. I love that being able to read and write is so important for the characters.
And I hate to throw this in, but I know some people only know Shannon Hale's writing from her adult novel, The Actor and the Housewife. Not to be a jerk, but don't judge her by that. It's not a good representation of her abilities. I think middle grade is really her niche.