Tag Archives: book reviews

Book Geek Wednesday: YA Appreciation Month

For five weeks, The Book Smugglers have celebrated YA Appreciation Month, something that Lisa and I pretty much live by here on Hollow Tree, on a day to day, month by month basis. Sure we still read the classics, and we love a random foray into Middle Grade, or adult Fantasy fiction. But mostly, our hearts lie in the YA book shelves, and we’re always thrilled to see others join that bandwagon.

They did five weeks of YA lovin’, ending in an pretty epic showdown that featured authors Diana Peterfreund (Team Unicorn) and Carrie Ryan (Team Zombie) defending their respective teams as the Smugglers then went on to review the much anticipated anthology, Zombies VS. Unicorns, which features some heavy hitters in the YA fantasy/paranormal world such as Holly Black, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Scott Westerfield, and Justine ¬†Larbalestier.

They featured an interview with author Melinda Lo, author of the breakout lesbian fairytale retelling of Cinderella, Ash.

They reviewed Inside Out, by Maria V. Snyder (who is quickly climbing up my list of favorite authors as I peruse her Glass series). And a few books I hadn’t heard of but that fit nicely into the dystopian genre Lisa highlighted yesterday, such as How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, and The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman.

There was also a very heated discussion about some of the themes in Sisters Red, which Lisa and I have anxiously been wanting to read. It seems to have stirred quite the controversy, as the author Jackson Pearce herself went and left her thoughts.

Either way, the YAAM, as its affectionately called, can be considered a great success and there are some really great things to read and learn about, so head on over to Book Smugglers and add a bunch of great new books to your TBR pile.

Book Geek Wednesday: Hollow Tree Now Hiring

Dear readers:

We here at Tales From the Hollow Tree love to read. But between the two of us, we cannot possibly keep up with the wealth of new books coming out each and every month in the genre we all love so much. So we’re looking for a few guest bloggers willing to post some honest and objective reviews for some of their favorite YA paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction books.

Now we realize we’ve had a real shortage of vamp books here. Lisa and I tend to be more into fantasy than paranormal, quite frankly, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great books out there that we’re missing. And seeing how they’re everywhere in the market, it’s a very big hole that needs filling. So if you’ve read some books that you’d like to talk about, we’d love to hear what you have to say!

Please keep in mind, we do not tear down writers on this blog. So if a story ends up being a disappointment, by all means tell us why, but be kind. We’re writers and readers and we know what it feels like to get flamed. It’s not fun. So we don’t allow it.

If you’d like to apply to be a guest blogger, please email us at hollowtreetales AT gmail dot com. Tell us a little bit about yourself, link us to your blogs or sites, and we’ll get back to you!

Thanks again for being loyal supporters and we can’t wait to build Hollow Tree into the YA resource we know it can be. ūüôā

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Last Fablehaven out today!

Oh man.¬† I need to get reviews up of the Fablehaven books, but Brandon Mull’s series about a brother and sister who discover that their grandparents are the keepers of a secret reserve for magical creatures is one of my favorite book series ever‚ÄĒespecially under the fantasy heading.¬† I’m hoping to be able to go to the release party for Keys to the Demon Prison‚ÄĒit’s tonight at Cottonwood High in Salt Lake City, and since I happen to be in the vicinity of there around now… we’ll see.¬† If I do get to go, maybe I’ll do a write-up on it for Friday.

Honestly, I’m almost depressed that the last book in the series is here.¬† It’s not Deathly Hallows doldrums, but with Harry Potter and Fablehaven now finished, I’m looking for something else to draw my fancy‚ÄĒthen again, I still have this whole book to read, and it’s the longest in the series yet!¬† So I’m excited.¬† Mull is promising ties to as many loose ends as he could find, and I’m looking forward to a satisfying read.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Song of the Lioness Books I & II by Tamora Pierce

I’ll admit right off the bat that I read these because I’m working my way towards the Beka Cooper series, which is supposed to be Pierce’s best work.¬† It took me some time to realize that that series is actually an offshoot of Pierce’s first quartet of books, the Song of the Lioness books.¬† I’d previously read The Circle of Magic books, and while I liked the concepts behind the book, I had to grit my teeth and force myself through a few of the books, so my expectations weren’t very high for these.

That said, I was kind of surprised.¬† I enjoyed Alanna: The First Adventure, for what it was meant for‚ÄĒa kid’s book about a girl defying the rules and becoming a knight by disguising herself as a boy.¬† If I’d read these when I was a kid, like a friend of mine did, I might well have loved them.¬† I think the foreshadowing in these books is a bit heavy-handed, looking at them through my own eyes, but for a kid it might not be quite so obvious who the bad guy was.

I continued to have a lot of fun with In the Hands of the Goddess, though I didn’t enjoy that one quite as much.¬† The foreshadowing really got to me on this one.¬† To be fair, there’s actually a bit written into the plot as to why Alanna doesn’t realize sooner who it is that’s plotting against both her and the prince, but as the reader you sort of want to bang your head against the wall every time she says something like “hm… he’s suspicious, and could probably gain from all of this, but… oh I’m probably just imagining things.”

No, Alanna.¬† You’re not imagining things.¬† And the showdown at the end would have been much more scandalous if we hadn’t seen it coming for ages.

Also… she has a talking cat in this book.¬† A familiar, as it were, but… well, it just doesn’t really work for me.¬† As I said before, this probably wouldn’t be an issue if I had read this at the age it’s actually intended for… but this edged more towards the problems I had with her Circle quartets‚ÄĒnamely, bad guys who were bad just because they were bad, and really deserved to die, and that’s it.¬†¬† I don’t know, Pierce.¬† I know you’re a big name in the fantasy industry, but really sometimes I wonder why.

These get a B- from me.¬† I’ll continue with them… if only because I really do want to get to Beka Cooper, and my OCD brain won’t let me read them out of order.¬† Yes, it’s true.

(Not so Fun)Friday: In the Media

So, I’m a strong believer in word of mouth. Many of the gems I’ve come across, be it books, music, television shows or movies, have all been at the suggestion of someone who’s opinion I value, who had insightful things to share. I do not take these suggestions lightly. Without them, I would never have found the Twilight Series. Or started listening to Paramore. Or rented the new BBC version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, only to fall in love with Captain Wentworth (he’s impossibly beautiful, but I digress).

Now, it seems, the government, in particular, the FTC wants to put a stop to these kind of valuable recommendations. I kid you not. Bloggers, beware. As of December 1, 2009, there will be some very strict review policies to follow or you risk being fined upwards of $11k.

For starters, the day of receiving ARCs may be over. Is an advanced copy of a book considered compensation for a review? I suppose my question is, how else is the review supposed to be written? And I suppose we could get the book, read it, and send it back… but that seems like a lot of work and I can see it generating a few headaches for authors and publishers in the future.

I suppose what outrages me the most is that the FTC is missing the big picture. Why not enforce something of substance? Like media piracy? An author friend of mine recently discovered her e-book was being pirated on a website and she’d lost out on thousands of dollars worth of sales. THOUSANDS. Try and put that into perspective. This is a woman with a family, and children, who takes the time to write books so others can enjoy them, and her hard work will never see the true fruits of her labor. But a blogger who gives her good press and reviews her book would be fined? It doesn’t make any sense.

What do you all think? I know many of you readers are also bloggers, are you outraged by these regulations? Do you feel it doesn’t really concern you? Discuss.

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