Author Archives: Michelle Isenhoff

About Michelle Isenhoff

Michelle Isenhoff is an educator and a children's literature enthusiast. She reads avidly within the genre and has written several children's novels.

Arrow of the Mist, by Christina Mercer

Last time I promised you my favorite Emblazon title from over the winter. This one takes top honors!

arrow of the mist

This book is a textbook example of what I love most about the children’s genres: a strong lead, incredible fantasy world, an imaginative plot, absolutely gorgeous prose, and a lingering depth to the story that I can take away with me and mull over later. I can’t think of a single negative. I was completely captivated by this one.

Lia has a botanical gift. She knows the ancient names, ancient uses, and ancient lore for every plant. Unfortunately, the king has outlawed such practices as well as entry into the mystical lands of Brume that lie hidden behind the curtain of mist. But when Lia’s father and several others contract an unknown sickness, she and her cousin must journey into the unknown land to find the cure. There Lia learns secrets of her family’s past, abilities she never would have imagined, and dangers beyond her worst nightmare.

I loved that Lia’s ability to wield magic stems from ancient herb lore. She’s a fantastic lead, strong, brave, and heedless of the disapproval others might have for her. Instead, her focus lies on the job she must do. Her cousin, Wynn, isn’t quite as developed, but he’s loyal and brave and makes a necessary accompaniment to Lia on her travels. And their path takes some wildly unforeseen turns. Brume is an incredible, well thought out world with mysterious characters at every turn.

And now to share some examples of Christina’s beautiful writing style:

“Lia turned her head from their scorn and swallowed down the retort growing bitter on her tongue.”

Squeaky Award“Dunley Meadow sprawled out in front of them, a blanket of golden stalks bending to the whispering breeze.”

“When he stopped and answered her, his words were slow and deliberate, like a steady drizzle of rain seeping deep into the soil.”

“The day dragged against the sky, and the dimly lit sun melted into the horizon.”

Breathtaking, isn’t it? The ending implies another episode to follow. I’ll be standing in line.

Want to grab a copy? It’s just .99!

Breaking news! I’m pleased to announce that Arms of Anu, the sequel to Arrow in the Mist, just released in March! I’ve already gotten my patties on it. I’ll give you the low-down very soon. :)

______________________________________________________

christina mercerChristina Mercer, writes fiction for children and young adults and is a member of Emblazon. She’s also a CPA, a Certified Herbalist, and a beekeeper. Other random facts: she’s ambidextrous and she doesn’t eat mammals (they simply don’t taste good). Writing credits include placing in the semi-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and taking Writer’s Best of Show at an SCBWI Regional Conference. She enjoys life in the Sierra foothills with her husband and sons, a pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees.

Our Choose-Your-Own Story Hit Kindle

Tony the PhonyYou probably remember back in March when I published my kids’ homeschool writing project, a choose-your-own story, on a whole bunch of blogs. We decided to go one step farther and publish it as an interactive Kindle book. You can see it received a cover update. It’s now available on Amazon for just 99 cents. So far, it’s been a hit. And one former homeschool student now working on her PhD even hailed it as “a really neat example piece of a curriculum tool, in addition to a fun little adventure story, that could be very helpful to other homeschool parents with kids who like to write”.

If you are a teacher or a homeschooler looking for a unique writing project, I wrote up a post about how we did it. Check it out over at the Quest Teaching blog. It was a time investment, but so worth it.

New Today!!

the stolen kingdomYou may recall a post I did last year announcing Ross Rosenfeld’s then new release, The Stolen Kingdom. I did not do a review simply because I had begun guarding my writing time so closely and did not have time to read it before I posted. (If you want a review, see Erik’s post over on This Kid Reviews Books.) You can read The Stolen Kingdom free on Kindle.

TODAY, Ross released a companion story to The Stolen Kingdom entitled The Greenest Valley. Again, I’m just making the announcement. I have not read it yet. Here’s the blurb on Amazon.

the greenest valleyIn this first companion story to the novel The Stolen Kingdom, you’ll go along with Winkle on an adventure like none you’ve ever heard before. Forced to live underground for hundreds of years due to their deformed appearances, the Pooglians find themselves faced with the prospect of starvation when a harsh winter makes animals scarce and crops nonexistent. Young Winkle and a band of seven other Pooglians are selected for a desperate journey to find food. What they find is danger, lurking behind every mysterious twist and turn. Expect many unusual surprises as you travel along with them. Recommended for ages 12 and up. Contains significant violence.

Interested? Have you read the novel? You can grab The Greenest Valley  Kindle edition for just .99.

The Gypsy Pearl

Here’s another Emblazon title that I read this winter. I’m really, really excited about these next two. This one is my second favorite. It’s by one of my favorite authors–cheerleader extraordinaire and soon-to-be black belt, Lia London. You’ll have to tune in next time for my top favorite.

Okay, I wrote up a fantistic review for this one right after I read it and promptly lost it. A few weeks later, I wrote this one. I feel like it doesn’t quite do it justice. But the book was an easy five stars.

Gypsy PearlCaz doesn’t mean to get in trouble, but trouble always seems to find her. When a choice of punishments includes a penal institution on the Surface, she jumps at the chance. She’s always hated life on the Arxon, an Interplanetary City Station and has dreamed of visiting the Surface. This is her long-awaited opportunity! But she doesn’t count on the transport ship filled with gypsies. Or the bloody encounter with their creature and its life-altering results.

This is my favorite Lia London book so far (and I’ve read them all), but I’m not sure I can actually pinpoint why. Ms. London’s writing is always beautiful. She’s an artist who paints in words. The prose is always smooth and easy to read.  I do believe she’s getting better and better. Perhaps it’s because Caz is my favorite character. I quickly identified with this quirky kid. I sympathized with her, and I laughed out loud at some of the outrageous things she said. The adventure is definitely part of it, as well. The plot led in some unexpected directions. But the ordinary gets a special touch, too. I especially loved rediscovering wind and smells and dirt with someone who had never experienced them before.

Squeaky Award

The mystery has me to eagerly await the next installment, which leads me to my one complaint. Three times Lia has written book one of a series. I want to read a book two. :)

This one, please!

Grab a 3.99 copy on Amazon.

Lia also wrote Magian High, which just got an awesome new cover, designed by Emblazoner Mikey Brooks. You can see it and my review here.

A Free Song! Award-winning Fiction Free Today

Song of the Mountain is free today on the
Kindle Books and Tips website.

Yes, I know it’s always free, but I paid to get the word out on a large site. If you’ve got a second, please make use of the share buttons at the bottom of this post. Thanks! :)

Nominated for the 2013 Cybils Award.
Semi-Finalist in the 2013 Kindle Daily Book Review Book Awards.

Song new

Mud and mire shall birth a tree,
A sprout shall grow of ancient seed.
The five unite to break the one,
The curse of man shall be undone.
But brothers rise ere dragon’s bane.
The last shall smite the first again.

Orphaned at a young age, Song Wei has grown up listening to his grandfather recite legends of the distant past. But it is his own history he seeks to uncover to guide him toward the future, particularly the events surrounding his parents’ deaths. That is a secret closely guarded by his grandfather. Then Song discovers an heirloom that links him to an ancient prophecy. His destiny lies within the old tales he has scorned. Song must follow the path that killed his father.

Allegiant (Divergent, 3), by Veronica Roth

cover_allegiantWow! This was a very powerful, emotional ending to a kick-butt series. After being somewhat disappointed in book two, book three made a strong comeback. I regret having to read them each a year apart. I forgot a lot in between. Someday, I’ll go back and read them all again the same week.

For those of you unfamiliar with the series (probably not many left after the movie—which I thought was excellent), book one, Divergent (my review), sets up a futuristic world where factions are set in place to maintain order after a devastating war several generations back. We meet Tris and Four, our heroes. It is the story of Tris’s very difficult decision to leave her family and enter the faction of her choice, only to find she is Divergent—her genes are different than the norm—and the Divergent are being hunted. Then one faction rises above the others, initiating a war. In book two, Insurgent (my review), the factionless—destitute, bottom-of-society folks—rise, plunging the city into a new revolution. But new secrets are revealed, hinting that there is far more to their history, and far more to the world beyond the city. Book three takes Tris and Four beyond the city and uncovers the mystery of how the factions began—genetic manipulation. And reveals the horrible plans the government has for the city they grew up in. Plans that throw our heroes into action for a third time.

I know that was not very detailed, but I don’t want to give anything away—rather tricky when talking about a third book. Suffice to say that this series is extremely engaging, with a bit of romance and non-stop action. It’s one of those books that ignites the writer within me to try for such tension, such emotion, in my readers. I highly recommend it.

Some further thoughts. This series is violent. There is a lot of power-grabbing and insurrection going on. There are also some moments of intense kissing. And it hits on some tough subjects. I put an easy 14+ age limit on it in our house. But Tris and Four are both honorable, and Ms. Roth, while she doesn’t write a squeaky clean book, does exhibit a great deal of restraint in the areas of sex and language. And—I love this—she makes the relationship between Tris and Four very real. They are both seriously imperfect, and their interaction reflects that. Unlike most teen romances, Ms. Roth doesn’t create unrealistic expectations for girls looking for Mr. Right. They won’t live happily ever after just because they get married. This is one of my favorite quotes:

“I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.” That’s not fairy tale. That’s real.

In conclusion, if you haven’t read this series yet, it’s intense. Easily one of the best YA series I’ve read. If you like dystopian, make this one your next library choice.

Paperback links…

So I couldn’t stay away from my computer for a week. But I have read a whole bunch of books so far. Just finished the last Divergent book. Ooooo…got a review coming tomorrow. And yesterday I saw dolphins! Today, however, I have some new paperback links for you.

Acting on the advice of a children’s librarian, I’m slowly changing my paperbacks over to a more school-friendly size (from 6×9 to 5.25×8). Song of the Mountain and Fire on the Mountain are now available, both in the new size. The links are at the top of my sidebar.

:)

I have links!

Final Fire from the Mountain coverBookworm Blather will be vacant for the next week or two as I break from all writing endeavors and go in search of some sunshine. I still have a good size snow drift in my front yard and a smaller one out back, but surely somewhere it must be spring! 

Before I go, I have some links for you. Fire on the Mountain is now live for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. Paperbacks are coming soon. I actually finished them, but my proofs won’t arrive before I leave. So…I’ll tend them when I return. In the meantime, I’ve filled up my Kindle and plan to do some massive amounts of reading.

Have a great spring break week!!

The Stone of Valhalla Blog Tour

My friend and fellow Emblazoner, Mikey Brooks, released a new book the same time I released Fire on the Mountain. I’m happy to host his tour today! Take it away, Mikey…

Welcome to The
Stone of Valhalla
Blog Tour!

A middle-grade fantasy-adventure by Mikey Brooks.
Don’t
forget to check out the
GIVEAWAY at the bottom this post
for a
chance to
WIN a $25 Amazon
Gift card
and other great prizes!
Synopsis:
Aaron was chosen to save their world, but it might come at the cost of
losing his own.
Breaking
into an old lady’s basement was supposed to reward 13-year-old Aaron with new
friends. Instead he finds an enchanted amulet that transports him to another
world—one at war with magic. Before he knows it, he is accused of witchcraft
and invited to a bonfire—where he’s the main attraction. If that’s not bad
enough, a goblin army shows up and toasts the town…literally. The good news:
Aaron escapes being charbroiled. The bad news: the goblins are after him. They
want his amulet and will stop at nothing to get it. Battling to find his way
home, Aaron teams up with a not-so-magical-wizard and learns it’s his fate to
destroy the amulet and save this new world. But is he willing to sacrifice his
own?
Check out what these talented authors
are saying about it:
The Stone of Valhalla is one of those
books that only comes along once in a great while. Brooks doesn’t just create a
world, he puts you inside of it, allowing you to experience the wonder in a way
that only he can. His characters are likable and fun. His twists leave you
asking ‘Why?’ Treat yourself to an exciting adventure through a beautiful new
land. Make new friends and be a part of the magic. This is a book that you will
not be able to put down!”
—J.R. Simmons,
author of Ragesong: Awakening.
 “The
Stone of Valhalla
drew me in from the get-go. Aaron’s journey is
reminiscent of Dorothy’s trek in The
Wizard of Oz
. Magic, sword fights, danger, and more danger, sprinkled with
humor and unexpected twists. This is one of the ‘best’ fantasy adventures I’ve
ever experienced!”
—BBH
McChiller, author of The Monster Moon
Series
.
The Stone of Valhalla is a riveting
mystery revealing true friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. Brooks engages the
curiosity of middle graders and older sleuths alike, until the very end.
Fantastic!”
—L.R.W. Lee,
author of The Andy Smithson series.
 
Excerpt From: Chapter Two: The Penalty of Witchcraft
Aaron thought he’d been transported
to some kind of
renaissancefair. People milled about in the street, all dressed like
they belonged on the set of some medieval movie. Most of their faces were stained
with dirt, and they wore soiled clothing. Large, wooden buildings, held
together by plaster, loomed overhead and all around him. Some had signs
announcing specific trades and goods. The sweet smell of bread came from one
shop, clearly a bakery. A rotund man stood out front, arguing with an old man
who had a silvery- white beard and a long, purple cloak. He was telling the
baker that the rolls he had purchased tasted ‘day-old’ and he required a
reimbursement.
Several passersby gave Aaron odd glances. One little girl
with a group of women dressed like nuns pointed at him and giggled. He thought
he heard her call him a buffoon, but she was quickly shushed by one of the
women and pulled into a shop.
This is so unreal.
Aaron couldn’t figure out what had happened.
How did I get
here? Who are these people?
Aaron waited for someone to jump out and yell, “Surprise,
you’re on camera!”
It never happened.
The seconds drew on like hours, and Aaron stood unmoving
like a statue in the middle of the dirt road. The sweet smell from the bakery
was drowned by the stench of a sweaty mule pulling a cart packed full with what
had to be manure. The wind blew and the wafting smell of poo filled Aaron’s nose.
He coughed and tried to cover the reek with his shirt.
“Witchcraft! Witchcraft, I say!”
Aaron turned around to see a middle-aged woman with only
three teeth shouting hysterically. She pointed directly at him. He looked over
his shoulder to ensure no green-skinned, broom-commandeering, warty-faced lady
in black stood beside him. There wasn’t anyone there. The noise on the street
stopped dead except for the woman. She grabbed a small wooden crate from a cart
filled with fresh flowers and stood on it. “Fetch the constable! Don’t let him
get away, or he’ll set a curse on our town.”
Five large men formed a group behind the woman and advanced
toward Aaron. He didn’t know what to do.
Where to Find The Stone of Valhalla:
Exclusive price for the eBook
release is just $2.99! (List Price: $4.99)
And only $9.99 for the paperback!(List Price: $12.99)
On April 12th
2014 the price will return to the List Price
Another special offer:

During The Stone of Valhalla Blog
Tour

Mikey’s other great middle-grade eBooks will also be set to the low
price of just $0.99!
The Dream Keeper:
Kindle | Nook | Kobo
The Dreamstone:
Kindle | Nook | Kobo
You’re Invited to PARTY!!
The
online launch party will take place on Thursday, April 10th at 4pm
(MST). The party will run for 2 hours and you’re invited to drop by anytime.
The longer you stay the more chances you have of winning prizes! We have slew
of eBooks to giveaway, as well as a Stone of Valhalla necklace AND a $25 Amazon gift card! It is hosted by
LovingtheBookLaunchParty on Facebook. Just follow this link to join the event: http://goo.gl/Q2Fd3r.
What’s that? Another Party!
That’s
right! If you’re local to Utah you don’t want to miss this kickin’ party. We
are having a launch party to celebrate the release of this awesome new book. Of
course there will be plenty of giveaways there too, but what’s even better are
the guest authors! Just check out these fabulous names: J. Scott Savage, Chad
Morris, Lisa Mangum, Jenni James, Ali Cross, and many more. The Launch Party
is: Friday, April 11th from 6-9pm at The Viridian Center in West
Jordan
, Utah. Follow this link for a map: http://goo.gl/dqVc0u
About Mikey Brooks:

Mikey
is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing
the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown
up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures
and Bean’s Dragons as well as the
middle-grade fantasy-adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His art
can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to
daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the
imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah
State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer,
and author. As a member of the Emblazoners,
he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of
children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank
Podcast
. You can find more about him and his books at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/.

The Giveaways!
Enter the giveaway below to be entered to win one of the following
prizes:
$25 Amazon Gift Card
The Stone of Valhalla
Necklace
Autographed Paperback of The
Stone of Valhalla
Autographed 11×17 Poster

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What’s Happening?

It’s time for one of those infrequent What is Michelle doing now? posts. Aside from going absolutely crazy due to yet another week of below freezing temperatures that are not melting away the crusty layer of snow in my yard, I’m somewhat bonkers with a new release and a Spring Break vacation days apart. And I’m supposed to homeschool too? Gulp! Good thing all the early track meets have been cancelled because no one wants to snow plow the area tracks.

Final Fire from the Mountain coverIn a nutshell, my kids might not have shorts to wear in Alabama come April, but Fire on the Mountain should be up on Amazon within the week. I’m down to that final read-through. My boys and I are making it a week-long read aloud. I’ll get my Kobo, Nook, and Smashwords formatting done between homeschool subjects, make final-final revisions on Saturday and actually have the book up a day or two early! I’m planning to hit all those publish buttons on Saturday or Sunday. I’ll let you know when links go live.

For those of you who will be wanting the paperback (Pat), it’s going to be a few more weeks in coming. Sorry! :( I have decided to redo my books in a school-friendly 5.25 x 8 inch size. First Candle Star, then Song of the Mountain, then Fire on the Mountain, then others. And I won’t be working on it during vacation. So look for an early May date on Fire paperbacks. Again, I’ll let you know as soon as it happens.

All of this is pushing back the last book of my Mountain Trilogy, Tears of the Mountain. I’ve got a great outline, a few thousand words written, and big ideas in my head. I was hoping to get the rough draft done by summer and publish in the fall. Late fall is looking more likely, but you never know. Good thing my boss isn’t too strict on deadlines. :)

After the Mountain series is done, what’s next? Good question. I have two more books to write for Taylor Davis, but I just might sneak book one of a new series in first. Due to reader demand, I’m outlining a new plotline that follows Emily Preston (The Candle Star) home to South Carolina. I’d like to follow her through the Civil War. The Ella Wood series would debut at the earliest in winter 2015.

Of course, all my long range plans are subject to change at a whim. I have about 15 stories in my head that all fight to be next in line. But those are my thoughts as of March 24, 2014. Next time I post, I’ll have links for you!