Tag Archives: young adult fantasy

There Was a Knock on the Door

Image From Dot Myl- Google Plus

Image by Dot Myl – Google Plus

Hello dear friends and imaginative travelers!

We regret to have left you at the Tree alone for such an extended period of time. We thought of you often, and despite our best efforts to return, the Door to the Tree eluded us, busy as we were fighting monsters in our path.

But if you’re here, if you’re listening… we’re knocking.

We’re writing.

Where will 2018 lead us?

Come along. Let’s find out.


Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

I realize today’s post is more than a bit late, but I’ve only just finished The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephenie Meyer.  I have to admit, I took advantage of the free version at breetanner.com, though that made finishing the story a bit difficult when you had to reflip to the page you’d ended on whenever you went back to the webpage.  Considering I had no idea if I’d enjoy the book at all, though, I was more than grateful for the chance to check it out before buying the book.  (It’s free online through July 5th, by the way, and only 178 pages, if you want to read it online!)

So.  I only vaguely remembered Bree from the end of Eclipse.  She was our one look at a “newborn” vampire, and one that Bella looks at with a “I could turn into that” point of view.  We didn’t know much more about her, though, except that she wanted to suck Bella dry—not that that was exactly a new thing for non-Cullen vamps in the Twilight world.  Probably like a lot of people, my first reaction to hearing about The Short Second Life was… why do I care about her perspective?  Why should I care about Bree Tanner at all?

I have to admit, though, when I read the intro by Stephenie Meyer, and I read the tagline from the inside flap of the book of it being another story full of “danger, mystery, and romance,” I kind of got my hopes up. Maybe Bree really was going to captivate me and hold me by the throat the way Twilight first did.  I was starting to look forward to it, even though vampire books really aren’t my cup of tea, and this is the most vampirish of any of the Twilight stories.

Now that I’ve read the story, though… do I feel differently?  Honestly, I don’t know that I do, much.  I have to admit, I enjoyed Bree’s perspective.  She wasn’t whiny like Bella, even though she was still kind of a scaredy, and kept out of all the real action.  Her interaction with Diego was fun to watch, but so short-lived that I felt the “romance” tagline was forced at best.  In fact, the romance itself seemed a bit overrated, even by Bree.  She didn’t have time to fall in love with Diego properly, so her agony at the end of the story doesn’t truly hit home the way it would if the two had more of a real relationship.  That said, I did enjoy their interaction, as I said.  Once Diego was out of the picture, though, we get caught up in the one big stumbling point Twilight—or any first-person perspective—can’t help but have… we were stuck with Bree’s point of view, even when it may not have been the most interesting one.

But learn insight into what happens in Eclipse, we certainly did.  I don’t know that it’s as essential to understanding the novel as it claims to be—Eclipse would be a failure of a novel if it needed outside help after all, which it’s not—but it was interesting.  And it was refreshing to stumble back into familiar territory at the end of the novella, too.  I think Bree ended up a lot more human than Meyer ever implied newborn vamps could be, though, and a lot more rational, too, no matter how many times she’d derail her logical thinking by saying she couldn’t concentrate—I didn’t buy that, half the time.

So I guess I could say that I’m glad I read this.  But unlike the rest of the Twilight novels, I don’t honestly know that I’ll ever read it again.  It was nice to step back into that world for a minute, though, and I have to admit, I really, really loved Fred.  I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him, in the future.

I give you a B, Bree Tanner.  Maybe a B+, since a dollar of every book is donated to the Red Cross.  Is that cheating?  Yes, but hey, it’s for a good cause.  If you do read the book online, there’s a chance to donate there, too.  Don’t miss it.


Fun Friday: Released this Week!

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce was released this week, and it’s one of the two books I’ve most been looking forward to this summer (the other is Maggie Stiefvater’s Linger, from the Wolves of Mercy Falls series!)

If you haven’t heard about Sisters Red, this is the summary from goodreads:

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris– the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts fiercely alongside her. Now Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves and finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax– but loving him means betraying her sister and has the potential to destroy all they’ve worked for.

Twenty-five-year-old Jackson Pearce delivers a dark, taut fairy tale with heart-pounding action, fierce sisterly love, and a romance that will leave readers breathless.

I’m so excited to read this.  The cover itself would have drawn me in and held me captive, but I’ve been watching Jackson Pearce’s blog and twitter, and I really just think she’s one of the smartest, sassiest authors to hit YA in a while, and I’m excited to watch her take the YA market by force.


Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The cover on my copy of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan has a quote at the bottom calling it “riotously paced,” and boy, is that ever accurate.  The Lightning Thief is almost as ADHD as its hero, Percy Jackson, but when it comes to quick and light reading, it definitely hits the mark.  Riordan flips through mythological characters and storylines like a fly jumping from one piece of fruit to another, and each little morsel of mythology is presented in a way that’s both fun and educational—no worries that you’re missing out on a good joke or something just because you’re not a scholar on Greek myths.

But let me back up a little bit.  Percy Jackson is kind of the Harry Potter of the Greek mythology world.  He’s not an orphan, but he is a misfit who’s been kicked out of a lot of schools for learning and behavioral problems.  And then one day his math teacher tries to kill him—literally.  He then learns that not only is his best friend actually a satyr, but his Latin teacher isn’t exactly as meets the eye, either.  Soon he’s headed to Half Blood Camp, and claimed as Poseidon’s son.  Not long after that, though, it’s learned that Zeus’ object of power—his master lightning bolt, has been stolen, and someone has framed Percy as the thief.  With a couple of friends along for the ride, Percy has to recover the stolen item and return it to Mt. Olympus before the Summer Solstice.  A big enough task as is—considering who everyone thinks the real thief probably was—but things are made that much worse by the fact that monsters are chasing them down at every turn.

I have to admit, the writing in this book isn’t the highest-quality stuff that I’ve ever read.  Most of the side characters are little more than cardboard cut-outs that talk, and if there weren’t so much mythology to draw from, these might not be very good books.  But the fact is, there is a ton of mythology to draw from, and Riordan weaves it so entertainingly into Percy’s trials and troubles that these books are really out-and-out fun.  I’m already a quarter of the way through the second one, and the action and reading doesn’t slow down at all.

The Lightning Thief is kind of a formulaic book, but the formula works.  Well.  And I’m honestly flying through these book.  Well, as fast as a crazy, full-to-the-tilt schedule allows me to, at least.  A- for The Lightning Thief.


Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Want-to-Reads – 2010 Debut Authors

Like a lot of you, probably, I’m always on the lookout for new authors.  Sure there are a trillion books out there I haven’t read yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep my eye out for one more, right?  Or two, maybe?  Here are a couple of 2010 debut authors whose first novels are ones I’m really interested in.

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.

In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.

I love the title and cover of this book… and I’m a sucker for mysterious strangers and unexplained preferences made by them… if that makes any sense.  I’m not always one for high fantasy, but I want to know this wizard’s secret and I’ve only read the back cover.
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The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

“A serial killer on the loose. A girl with a morbid ability. And the boy who would never let anything happen to her.

Violet Ambrose can find the dead. Or at least, those who have been murdered. She can sense the echoes they leave behind… and the imprints they leave on their killers. As if that weren’t enough to deal with during junior year, she also has a sudden, inexplicable, and consuming crush on her best friend since childhood, Jay Heaton.

Now a serial killer has begun terrorizing Violet’s small town… and she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.”

I love the twist to this story… Violet can sense echoes of violence… which leads her to be able to locate the bodies of murderers… and now a serial killer may be after her.  This is a high-stakes book, and I feel like my putting it off is like putting off Violet’s solving the case.  Weird?  Maybe.  But I want to read this.


Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: New Additions to the TBR list.

I went to a writer’s conference this past weekend, and couldn’t resist buying a book.  I was really lucky to  be able to win a door prize, too—which means another book for me, yay!  I’m really looking forward to reading both of them and giving them a review here.

Fifteen-year-old Erin and her twin brother, Bain, had never seen the secluded cabin in the woods by their home. Upon entering, they discover a magical world where pegasi, dragons and fairies are a reality.

The siblings soon find themselves with super-human powers, being taught the art of magic and swordplay by mystical beings. It isn’t long before they are struck with a realization—they are training to become elves.

Faced with the decision to leave the life they have always known for a world of fantasy, Erin and Bain confront certain demons that threaten to tear them apart. goodreads

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I admit, at first glance, Älvor by Laura Bingham doesn’t really look like my cup of tea.  I don’t know, even as a YA fantasy lover, I see words like “training to become elves” and I’m sort of tempted to turn away.  But I read the first few pages of this and to be honest, I’m hooked.  Bingham has a really lovely writing style that’s easy to read, and that grabs my attention really fast, and Erin and Bain are already making an impression on me, so I’m really looking forward to see how their adventure turns out.

She’s had it forever. A tiny mark on her hand. No big deal, right? But when Tori discovers that her ordinary freckle is really some kind of microscopic tattoo, she doesn’t know what to think, especially after meeting Eric, a guy she feels strangely connected to–and not just because he has a mark too.

All too soon, Tori and Eric realize that their marks are only the first clue to a mystery that will change everything. And with each new discovery, Tori finds herself pulled deeper and deeper into a world she could never have imagined.goodreads

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This one really excites me.  The Mark by M.R. Bunderson is quite simply a beautiful book.  I love the cover design, the description on the back, the idea of a micro tattoo with some secret to it, and the fact that the tattoo image (at least, if that’s what is on the cover, as I’m guessing) looks like nothing I’ve really seen before.  Not tribal or celtic or anything like that… it looks almost computer-ish, and that makes me really extra-curious as to the secret behind it.  I haven’t opened this one yet, but I really can’t wait to read this.  I want to know what Eric and Tori’s strange connection is—and I haven’t even started the book yet.  That’s good marketing right there.


Fun Friday Interview: Maggie Stiefvater!

Today we are delighted to be able to chat a little bit with Maggie Stiefvater, author of Lament, Ballad, and the acclaimed Shiver, the first novel in her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, with the sequel Linger due out in July. (Hooray!)

So welcome, Maggie!  We’re super excited to getting to know a little bit more about you.

First things first.  Many of your characters have some sort of strong musical leanings… can you tell us a little bit about your own musical background?
Music makes the world go ‘round. My mom put me at the piano when I was a tiny maggot, and then I picked up other instruments as I went: harp, guitar, bodhran (that’s a sort of Irish drum), tin whistle, and finally, in college, the bagpipes, which I played competitively for a few years. Yes, I know. You don’t have to tell me.
Anyway, I love music. I have it playing all the time, Celtic, Classical, Alternative Rock . . . I have music playing right now. “I Love the Trees” by Nomos. I was just listening to “Walking the Dog” by Fun. before that.

You’ve shown off some of your doodling on your Livejournal, what other hidden talents do you have?

I swear, I have no other hidden talents beside art and music and writing. I can’t make tortillas. I am not good at sitting still. I can drive a stick shift. Does that count? Also, I can perform a cartwheel.

What is your absolute, no-holds-barred favorite bit of the writing process?

That moment when I write a scene and I know that it is going to hurt the readers in some way, either because it’s so, so bad or so, so good. I love to put characters in situations that almost break them, and the almost-breaking is fantastic — but so is the other side when they become giant and strong.

We’re all about YA fantasy here.  What is it about the genre you find so appealing?

Teens are really powerful, passionate people. Who wouldn’t want to write about that? One day I might write an adult book, but for now, I love writing about that edge when you find yourself.

Do you, have you, or would you work in another genre?

Other than fantasy YA? I always tell people that there is something very lovely about a platonic shower with your boyfriend/ husband/ lover, but that I would never be able to write on in a YA though I really want to. One of these days, I will be unable to stop myself and will have to write an adult book because of that. When you see me come out with my first adult book, look for the shower scene. Because that will be the cause of it all.

Your faeries really are nice and homicidal, aren’t they?  You also seem to know faerie lore like the back of your hand.  Was this all research you did for your books, or was it something you were already familiar with?

Oh, I grew up with this stuff. I was a small, strange child like Coraline or Wednesday Addams, and I always had a fat, dusty tome of mythology in my lap. While other girls were telling you about fairy godmothers, I was advising you to hang open scissors above cribs to keep fairies from stealing the baby.

Musicians are always being asked for their influences–who are your biggest influences in writing?

Hm. Audrey Niffenegger, because she first gave me the “hmmm, I wonder” thought about alternative point of views, and also because she made me cry, which never happens, and made me want to do that to other people. Mary Lawson’s Crow Lake was lovely and subtle and taught me to trust my readers. Diana Wynne Jones taught me to use humor when things got bad.

You have some seriously awesome music on your story soundtracks on your website.  What music is inspiring you right now?

Thanks! I am listening to “Eagle Eye” by Brian Tyler for a Super Secret Project I am writing. And I just handed the draft of FOREVER to my editor while listening to “First Floor People” by Barcelona.

I loved Shiver and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series–Not asking for specific spoilers here, but looking at it in comparison to your Faeries series, are we going to be sticking close to the characters we know, or get a closer look at some of the smaller characters from the first book in Linger and Forever?

A little bit of both. Linger is definitely more a true sequel to Shiver than Ballad is to Lament. We definitely get Sam and Grace, but the world opens up a bit to include Isabel and a newcomer, Cole. I’m very excited to see how readers react to them . . . especially Cole, one of the most challenging characters I’ve ever written.

I’ve just discovered your Merry Sisters of Fate blog that you’re involved in—can you tell us a little more about that?

Ooh, yes! I write short fiction each month over there at www.merryfates.com, with my two critique partners, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff. The theory was this: when I was a full time artist, I was part of a movement called “Painting a day.” You were supposed to start and finish a painting each day — usually a small one so you could manage it all. I did it for two years and so there are hundreds of Maggie pieces out there. And I got so amazingly better from year to year because of it that I decided that it would be fantastic to do the same thing with my writing. So we jumped in and started the blog, and for the first year, we each did a short story every week. Now we’ve cut back to once a month because we all have other deadlines going on, but man. Those first stories versus what we do now? It’s been amazing.

Thank you so much for your time, Maggie!  I can promise that the Hollow Tree plans on keeping a very close eye on you in the future!

Thank you guys so much for the fantastic questions!!

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Be sure to check out Maggie’s author website and blog, and look for her books in stores!  They come highly, highly recommended from the Hollow Tree Team!


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