Book of the Week: Alanna, The First Adventure

I was thinking of what book to write this week’s Book of the Week post about and couldn’t really think of which to write about. I’ve read a couple new books in the last few weeks but I haven’t really cared enough to write about them. I started making new sections on my blogs. I put up a new “Writing Advice” section, treatment where you can go to get writing advice from authors that you enjoy. I’ve personally emailed, tumblr-ed, tweeted, Facebook messaged, etc. these authors and I’ve gotten a nice response from some really awesome authors, so you should definitely check it out.
Then I added two more sections, Recommended Books : Young Adult and Recommended Books: Adult, and I realized how many of the books that I have recommended to people just haven’t been reviewed on this blog. And I’m kind of aiming to fix that. So I decided to start with one of my absolute favorie authors, Tamora Pierce, and her very first Tortall books.
So for your enjoyment, here is this week’s Book of the Week:
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Picture 7
Genre:
young adult, fantasy
Part of a Series?:
yes, the first installment of the Song of the Lioness quartet
You May Like if You Liked:
Harry Potter, Cinda Williams Chima’s fantasy novels
Plot Summary:
Alanna of Trebond has reached the age of ten and it’s time to send her off to the convent to learn how to be a proper lady. Of course, she doesn’t want to go; she wants to go the palace to learn to be a knight. Her twin brother, Thom, wants to learn to be a powerful sorcerer and has no desire to become a knight. Of course they come up with a brilliant idea to switch places and Alanna heads to the palace disguised as Alan, ready to begin her training as a knight. But training to be a knight isn’t as easy as she thought it was, especially when she is trying to conceal her idea her identity as a girl. Soon though she makes friends with her fellow pages, Prince Jonathan, Gary, Raoul, Alex and the king of thieves, George Cooper. Then Jonathan’s uncle, Roger, returns to court and Alanna had a funny feeling about him that she just can’t shake.
The Bad: 
The first Tamora Pierce book I read was the series of Alanna’s daughter. Sorry, small spoiler. I won’t tell you who it’s with though! But that was stupid because there are THREE series before that one! Whoops!
So eventually I went back and read the original series. And honestly, there’s nothing bad about it in my head. I think one complaint someone might have is that its simpler, a child’s book. This doesn’t bother me, because of all the good reasons below, and because Tamora’s writing and stories get more complex as her books progress and I do believe they are very young adult books.
The Good: 
There is SO much good about this book. First off, the characters. Alanna is a wonderful character because she is SO determined and she’s such a strong female character. Alanna: The First Adventure was first published back in 1983, before the burst of young adult literature and strong heroines hit us all. I think Tamora Pierce was doing something before a lot of other authors were. Alanna disguises her gender in a place where it is NOT easy to do so to become a knight, which is a crazy challenge all in itself. She’s also really small, so she’s not even built like a normal page/squire would be built. But that’s what makes it even better. Alanna is trying to become a knight under extraordinary circumstances, and her size only makes the goal that much harder. But she works so hard, she practices over and over again, she even works as hard as possible to overcome a cruel bully. As the stories progress, she becomes stronger and smarter and she’s one of THE strongest female characters I have ever read in the many, many novels I’ve read.
There’s also the world of Tortall that Tamora Pierce has created. It is very reminiscent of those stories we read as children with princes and princesses, knights in shining armor but in a young adult setting with some serious issues going on, serious villians. You have villians fighting for the crown, and you have bullies picking on those who are different from them, you have a girl’s life in danger every day because of her hidden gender. And she creates such a REAL world; she knows the kingdom, she knows the neighboring kingdom well, and she knows the kingdoms across the sea, and she has histories for these kingdoms. She knows her myths and legends, she knows her history. Her worlds, the creatures, the people, the myths and legends and rules and laws…they all have backing to them. She isn’t pulling this out of nothing, she truly knows what she is talking about, which makes her world believable and makes her world a world that readers want to live in.
She also creates a wonderful story. You can’t help but root for Alanna as she tries to pull off this incredible and seemingly impossible task. She is trying to handle so much, and she’s so young in this book. It takes place over the course of…I’d say three or four years and its just so much for a 10 to 14 year old handle. She’s learning to be a knight, she’s learning to hone her magical skills, she’s making friends, dealing with a bully, and on and on. But even though its just a fantastical story, its so believable too. I think Tammy has so many fans, but I think sometimes there’s a lack of new fans in her case because of the overwhelming flux of teen paranormal romance and the popularity that it has. Her books are good, clean, fun fantasy novels with fantastic characters, strong female leads and enough romance without being too cheesy.
Rating: 
Five out of Five stars. Tamora Pierce is a goddess.
Recommended or Not? 
Definitely. I recommend this book highly because there is so much to read after this. There are three more books in this series,  then the four book Immortals series, the four book Protector of the Small series and then the two book series, Tricksters. Then there’s also the prequel series, Beka Cooper, series. And Tammy only gets better and better as the series go along and all of her books are pure golden fantasy with action, humor, romance, and on and on…and she always has kickass female characters. Pick up a Tammy book now.
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International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. I have two thoughts on this.

One of my thoughts is this: we shouldn’t have only one day a year where we recognize women. There are so many amazing women in this world, order in our present and our past. I think that we should appreciate these women every day, not just on a day like this: Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B Anthony, Marie Curie, Harriet Tubman, Hilary Clinton, J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey. Your mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters. Yourself, if you’re a woman. There is so much we have accomplished and so much we are capable of accomplishing. And we should be aware of this every day, both men and women. Women should be aware because this is their legacy and they should believe in themselves and be proud of their gender. Men should be aware because they need to recognize women as their equals and realize how much we are capable of and realizing how much we already have done.

But it also makes me very aware of the strong female characters that I am surrounded by every single day. Hermione Granger. Ginny Weasley. Minerva McGonagall. Molly Weasley. Lily Potter. Clary Fray. Tessa Gray. Isabelle Lightwood. Lady Alanna the Lioness. Lady Keladry. Daine the Wildmage. Alianne of Pirates Swoop. Annabeth Chase. Katniss Everdeeb. Princess Leia. Susan and Lucy Pevensie. Tris Pryor. Eowyn. Arwen. Arya Stark. Catelyn Stark. Emma Swan. Buffy. Inara. Kaelie. Zoe. Rose Tyler. Martha Jones. Donna Noble. Amy Pond. Clara Oswald. Anne of Green Gables. Elizabeth Bennett. Jane Eyre. Scarlett O Hara.

I could literally go on and on and on. And I was quite tempted to do so. But I think you get my point.

The point is I am amazed and yet so happy at the amount of strong female characters that we are constantly surrounded with. The strength of all these characters, though they are all fictional, inspires us the same way that a real person does. As a reader, these characters are real to us and the amazing things they do, the obstacles they face and conquer, the decisions they make and the accomplishments they take…it makes me very proud to be a woman.

So, it’s International Women’s Day…so celebrate it. Embrace being a woman. There are so many amazing things about being a woman. This isn’t about men versus women or what sex is better. This is about equality and bringing proud of who are you and what your gender has accomplished and will accomplish. It’s a reminder that we will do what we have to do, we will fight for our rights and for that equality and we will stand up and be proud because we’ve proved ourselves, both in fiction and in life.

You know, and I’d say the same for International Men’s Day. Men should be proud as well, for the good men that are out there. For the men who have fought and accomplished and who have changed the world. For the men who recognize women as equals. Those men deserve that pride too.

So soak in the pride and remember all the amazing women that we have been privileged to have in our past and present and that we will continue into our future.

Who are some of your most inspirational women? Are they your family members, or women of our past? Are they some of the successful women of our times or fictional characters? As always, share below. :)

And you men out there, you share too :) I know you have some inspirational women in mind too!