Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Quill Pen - A book review

The Quill Pen
by Michelle Isenhoff
(Available for $2.99 at Amazon and Smashwords)


If you owned a pen that wrote the future, would you use it? What if the consequences spread like ripples in a pond? What if they raged out of control? What if the pen demanded blood?

Thirteen-year-old Micah has found such a pen. One that’s ensnared him in a curse dating back to the Golden Age of Sail. One that has devastated two families and now threatens his whole town. But how can Micah destroy the pen when it offers him the future he dreams of?


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 Widow 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.


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 absolutely hold its own against current middle grade books being released by the big six traditional publishers.
Friday, January 6, 2012

Contest for Book Reviews

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for me. I published my young adult e-book CYCLES and ever since then I’ve been searching the internet for bloggers who do book reviews. WOW! There are more of them than I ever imagined, and my, do they work hard.

In an effort to say thanks to those book bloggers who review my e-book, I came up with an idea to do a drawing. The prize is an i-home (worth $50) and a $25 itunes card. I’ll do the drawing once I get 50 book reviews or on Feb. 29th (leap day)—whichever come first.

The response has been great, and best of all the reviews I’ve gotten so far have been really honest. I’m taking what I’m learning and using it in the book’s sequel.

If any of you want to do a review on your blog, please email me at and I’ll get a you free copy of CYCLES.

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I'm a mom and author, among other things. I enjoy writing middle grade and young adult books.