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When Michelle Isenhoff's not writing imaginary adventures, she’s probably off on one. She loves roller coasters and swimming in big waves. She’s an avid runner. She likes big dogs, high school football games, old graveyards, and wearing flip-flops all winter. Her dream vacation would include lots of castle ruins, but so far she’s had to settle for pictures on Pinterest. Once an elementary teacher, Michelle now homeschools two of her three kids and looks forward to summer break as much as they do.
In a genre dominated by traditional publishers, Michelle has received the following accolades:
Nominated for a 2013 Cybils Award (Song of the Mountain)
Semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review 2013 Book Awards (Song of the Mountain)
Considered for the 2012 Great Michigan Read (Divided Decade Trilogy)
Nominated for the 2012 Maine Student Book Award (The Color of Freedom)
Candle Star logo whiteMichelle’s books have been lauded by teachers and homeschoolers alike. Educators are invited to request free digital copies. Michelle is also pleased to provide complimentary copies to book reviewers.
Candle Star Press is her personal imprint.
Lois D. Brown
on Jan. 21, 2012 :
Set in a quaint port town, The Quill Pen by Michelle Isenhoff describes a time when life seemed slower, more simple. But was it really?
Thirteen-year-old Micah is an adventurer at heart. He longs for the freedom of the open air and sky found in the uncharted Western states. Micah’s father, however, is a born business man interested in one thing: making money. The two get along with each other as well as . . . well, as well as peanut butter and mayonnaise go together. Which, as most middle grade kids would agree, is NOT very good at all.
Add to the mix a batch of quirky neighbors, a pen that writes in blood, and a mysterious curse, and you’ve got the makings for a sandwich full of unique flavor and spice.
When Micah finds a quill pen that can be used to write the future, he is tempted to use it to stop his father from sending him away to attend a boy’s boarding school. However, each time he employs the pen, even for the simplest tasks like taking inventory of his father’s store, bad things happen. Regardless the consequences, the lure of the pen is too much for Micah. Near the end of the book, when he learns burning the quill would undo a curse placed decades earlier on his best friend’s father, Micah still can’t force himself to destroy the power the pen holds—that is until his arch enemy steals it from him.
This story is written with enough action to easily satisfy the demands of its intended audience: 8-12 boys and girls, as well as hold the attention of most adults. It contains wonderful imagery, similes, and metaphors. Granted, some of these will be lost on the book’s younger audience, but for those adults who pick it up it will be a treat.
Be forewarned, this is not a “reluctant reader” middle grade book. It is similar in theme and style to one of my favorite books, Tuck Everlasting. The Quill Pen expands on some of life’s universal themes: courage to face one’s fears, the destructiveness of unbridled power, and the joy of growing old with those you love. Treatment of these topics is scattered from cover to cover in a subtle way—for the most part. My one complaint (and I only have one) is that when Micah’s best friend, Gabby, talks about these themes, her character seems overly mature. To me, she didn’t come off sounding “kid enough.” Maybe I’m jaded, but it was hard for me to imagine a teenage girl being that wise and to imagine a teenage boy being nice enough to listen to her.
However, that was only one weakness in an overall amazing display of characterization that made the book come alive, such as the old widow, Mrs. Parsons, whose past holds a tragic secret: and Sanjay Ramesh, a retired sailor whom the town shuns because of the color of his skin.
I appreciated the author using language appropriate for the book’s middle grade audience. There is no swearing or inappropriate jargon. And while there is violence (gun shots and fist fights), it is nothing gory or offensive. As for intrigue and suspense? There is plenty of both which is why I highly recommend this book to those in the market for a well-written middle grade fantasy.
Conclusion: The pacing, writing, characterization, and editing found in The Quill Pen, an indie-published e-book by Michelle Isenhoff, are extremely well done. The book would certainly hold its own against current middle grade books being released by the big six traditional publishers.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Dec. 19, 2011 :
My goodness, Michelle Isenhoff is clearly SO VERY TALENTED. She sets the scene so incredibly perfectly that I felt like I was right there with the characters amid all the action.
This is such a fantastic read. After I'd read it, I said to my husband that I could imagine this book being studied by children at school... it's that amazing!
This has got to be one of the VERY BEST books I've had the pleasure of reading this year... actually, make that EVER. Simply superb!
(reviewed long after purchase)