Review of Shattered, by Kathi Baron

Shattered
By Kathi Baron
WestSide Books
ISBN: 978-1-934813-08-9
Young Adult

Shattered is the compelling story of a violin prodigy teenaged girl who runs away from home after her father shatters her beloved violin in front of her eyes. Thus, the word ‘shatter’ has a dual meaning in the novel. As Cassie learns to survive in the streets, she gradually learns the reason her father, a former violinist, behaved so explosively. While away, she meets a series of interesting—and sometimes dangerous—characters that indirectly help her grow and become a more mature and understanding human being. Cassie also searches for her elusive grandfather in an effort to learn more about her own father.

Human emotions are brought to vivid life in this first novel by talented new author Kathi Baron. Baron writes from the heart, with passion and sincerity. The prose flows beautifully and the story kept me engrossed all the way till the end. Cassie is a genuine protagonist most teenaged girls will identify with, especially young violinists. One aspect of this book that got my attention is that the descriptions of music and the violin sound very real even though the author isn’t a musician. This is a peeve of mine with violin novels: if the author isn’t familiar with the violin, the writing comes out as fake. But this didn’t happen with Shattered, so I have to congratulate the author on her research.

Shattered is a coming-of-age story. It is also about the healing power of music and the complexity of family relationships. A must read for young violinists, especially girls!

Reviews of Frederico, the Mouse Violinist


“Cute and curious, a little mouse transports us into Antonio Stradivari’s magical workshop. In a sweet playful way, Frederico conveys to us his love for the violin, while he introduces us to this marvelous instrument. Lovely tribute to a genius, whose exceptional instruments have delighted us for 300 years!”—Dorina Raileanu, violin teacher, author of the Dorina Violin Method

***

“This delightful story combines the magical element of an anthropomorphic mouse with a famous historic musical figure. Vocabulary words and interesting facts are woven into the story, making this an educational as well as entertaining read. Illustrator, K.C. Snider’s artwork hits all the high notes as well. Her depictions of the intrepid Frederico bring the story to life with vivid and colorful details. Additional information and activities—including a matching pictures game, glossary, and word search—encourage young readers to explore the book’s content in greater depth. The book is available in paperback, hardcover, and eBook versions.

“Congrats to Ms. Calvani on another endearing children’s tale.”

–Cynthia Reeg, author of Kitty Kerplunking

***

“Calvani weaves her love of music with a beautiful story that is sure to enchant young readers. Whether your child plays musical instruments or not, he will enjoy reading of the little mouse with big dreams. This is such a unique and fun way to bring an appreciation of music to kids. I would love to see music classrooms in all our elementary schools carrying a copy of this one.” —The Book Connection

***

“Frederico’s story is adorable and touching. I’m sure it will entertain many children, teach them a few things about the violin–andwho knows, perhaps even give them the desire to learn to play!”—Francine Engels, Suzuki violin teacher

***

“Frederico is a mouse who watches the famous Stradivari make the finest violins in the world and longs to play one himself. Although a mouse is far too small to play a violin, Frederico keeps trying and one day…. well, I won’t give away the ending.

“The illustrator, K.C. Snyder, combines cute mouse and realistic violin pictures to convey both the fictional story and factual information perfectly.

“This book contains just enough about violins and how they work to be both informative and entertaining for kids. It would make a great gift for children from four to eight years old, especially if they’re interested in music.” –Janet Collins, children’s author

***

“Frederico the Mouse Violinist by Mayra Calvani is a delightful story. I expected a fun read, but instead, found an enjoyable and educational story. Calvani hits that magical note where learning becomes exciting. The mouse is adorable as he discovers every part of the violin and when the famous Stradivari creates a gift just for our favorite furry friend, the reader feels the mouse’s joy. This is a book for the keeper shelf. Frederico the Mouse will become every young violinist’s favorite book and become the inspiration for others to play a violin of their own.” –J.R. Turner, award-winning author of the Extreme Hauntings series.

***

“Frederico the Mouse Violinist, written by Mayra Calvani, is a sweet story about a small mouse who lives in the workshop of the famous violinist, Antonio Stradivari.

“My family and I loves animal tales. I read it to my seven year old son, Noah, and he loved it.The illustrations are beautiful, and this story will entertain and teach children, ages 4-8, about violins for years to come.” –Book Reflections

***

“Author Mayra Calvani has created a story sure to intrigue and educate children and their parents. Included in the text are the names of the parts of the violin in bold-face type. At the end of the story is a glossary of terms, and also some violin-related games for the young reader to play and solve.

“The whimsical and lovely illustrations by award-winning artist K.C. Snider create a mood that supports and enhances this delightful tale. This beautiful book is a must for any child interested in music, and especially for those who are learning a musical instrument. Adults will love it too. There is much to learn for readers of any age. In addition to musical information, implicit in the story are the qualities of passion and perseverance, which are essential to the mastery of any skill. ‘Frederico, the Mouse Violinist’ is highly recommended by this reviewer.” –Suzanne Marion, children’s author and musician

***

Purchase from Guardian Angel Publishing.

The hardcover is on sale for $15.95 (normal retail price $19.95).

Also in paperback and ebook!

Frederico the Mouse Violinist is out!


Hi all,

I’d like to announce the release of my latest children’s picture book, Frederico the Mouse Violinist!

Blurb:

Frederico is a tiny mouse with a big dream: he wants to become a violinist. Each day he watches as Stradivari makes his famous violins. Each night, he sneaks into the workshop to play. But the violins are too big! Then, unbeknown to Frederico, Stradivari sees him playing and begins carving a tiny device. Could it be a famous Strad especially for Frederico?

Frederico the Mouse Violinist teaches the parts of the violin to beginners ages 3-8.

The book is available in ebook, paperback and hardback formats from Guardian Angel Publishing. It should also be on Amazon, B&N and other online retail stores in about 1-2 weeks.

Purchase from Guardian Angel Publishing.

Thanks!

Mayra

New book: The Violin’s Magical Melody, by Terica Lynn Swangin

Fear brought them together. Their journey made them friends.

Scribbles and his two friends Tiger and Gemma look forward to entering Greenvale County’s annual kite race. However, their excitement fades after the mischievous Skunk Brothers, Randy and Riley, plant seeds of doubt and fear in the minds of the three friends. Wanting desperately to run and hide until after the race, a talking blanket named Jorey appears and offers to take them to Imagination Land, a delightful place “Where Your Imagination Makes All Your Dreams Possible.” Once there, they meet a teary eyed musical prodigy, named Harmony, who has a terrible case of stage fright. Harmony believes the only way she will be able to perform is if she plays with an enchanted musical instrument. Vowing to help their new friend find her confidence, Scribbles, Tiger, Gemma, and Jorey accompany Harmony on an exciting adventure through Imagination Land in search of the legendary magical violin.

Review of The Musician’s Daughter, by Susanne Dunlap

The Musician’s daughter
By Susanne Dunlap
Bloomsbury
2008
978-1599903323
Young adult/historical

Music and violin enthusiasts who love mystery and adventure fiction will relish Dunlap’s latest novel, The Musician’s Daughter.

The story takes place in 18th Century Vienna and begins on Christmas Eve, as 15-year old Theresa Maria’s beloved father is brought to her home, dead. Though Maria is stunned and devastated by the event, her practical nature soon takes charge and she becomes the head of the household. Her mother isn’t able to help, as she is pregnant and dazed by her new widowhood. Theresa’s other family member is her little brother, and they need money soon if he is going to become a luthier’s apprentice, as it had been planned from the beginning. But who would hire a 15-year old viola player, anyway, in a time when musician women were frowned upon? Thus Theresa seeks the help of her father’s dear old friend, composer Franz Joseph Hayden. All along, however, Theresa is keen on investigating her father’s death. Why was her father’s dead body found near a gypsy camp? Why was his violin missing? Her instincts tell her there’s more to it than a vulgar petty crime.

Indeed, as Theresa begins working with Hayden, she begins to suspect a conspiracy, a mystery reaching the high levels of the government. Was his father a simple violinist in the orchestra of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, as she always thought he was, or was his real job more sinister?

Music, mystery, espionage and a light touch of romance will keep readers turning the pages. Dunlap’s prose flows beautifully and I loved Theresa’s strong yet sympathetic character. She’s smart, resourceful and independent in a time where women were expected to behave just the opposite. The gypsy element adds an exotic, sensual flavor to the story. Musicians will particularly enjoy the musical descriptions. The story has an ambitious plot and I think Dunlap did a good job in tidying up all the loose ends. This is a novel to be enjoyed not only by teens but also by adults.

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Dance Macabre book launch!

I got this message from violinist/author Gerald Elias…

Dear Friends,

Please come and be the first to celebrate the release of my second book, Danse Macabre! Bring your friends to an evening of reading, music, and conversation at

The Mysterious Bookshop,
58 Warren Street, New York, NY 10017
Monday, August 30, at 6:30 PM.

In Danse Macabre, the second Daniel Jacobus mystery, the rivalry between the beloved aging violin virtuoso, Rene Allard, and BTower, his one-time protege and young African American crossover sensation, boils over, resulting in a brutal murder, and Jacobus is caught in the middle of a clash between generations, races, and musical passion.

I am also very pleased to announce that St. Martin’s Press has recently invited me to write a third and fourth in the series, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of Daniel Jacobus, and I look forward to seeing you on the 30th!

Yours,
Jerry

To see and hear more, go to www.geraldelias.com

Some comments about Danse Macabre:

“Elias’s debut, Devil’s Trill, was a great reading experience; his new book is outstanding. A musical feast for mystery and music lovers.” (Library Journal, starred review, July 2010)

“The refreshingly caustic Jacobus, a cast of superbly drawn supporting characters, an interesting classical music milieu accessible to aficionados and neophytes alike, an unexpected twist or two, and a unique murder method combine for an engrossing read.” (Publisher’s Weekly, June 2010)

Review of An Unfinished Score, by Elise Blackwell

An Unfinished Score
By Elise Blackwell
Unbridled Books
ISBN-10: 1936071665
ISBN-13: 978-1936071661
Pub date: April 2010

An Unfinished Score begins with our viola-player protagonist, Suzanne, learning about her lover’s tragic death from a radio announcement as she’s having dinner with her composer husband, Ben. Stunned, she must hide her feelings and act as if nothing is wrong. During the coming weeks, as she goes on with her daily routine, we get past snapshots of her illicit relationship with her lover, the well-known conductor Alex Elling. Suzanne keeps the secret to herself, hiding the truth even from her best friend Petra. Then one day she receives a strange call from Alex’s widow, a call that brings an unexpected twist into Suzanne’s quietly desperate life: the widow claims that Alex has left an unfinished concert for Suzanne… Is this true? Who is to finish the score? Who gets to play the concert? For what reason?

Thus begins the dark relationship between Suzanne and her dead lover’s widow, a relationship that sends Suzanne into inner turmoil and ultimately into public humiliation.

There are many positive things to say about this novel. It is obviously well researched. The world of musicians, composers, orchestras and string quartets come alive. In this respect, the author has done her homework, and classical music fans will enjoy all the references to music and facts about the ins and outs of the musical world. As a norm, it isn’t easy for a non-musician author to write convincingly about musician characters, yet the author has accomplished this with flying colors. The sentences flow beautifully and at times the prose has some great moments. There is a genuine, realistic aspect to the characters and their insipid and unpleasant lives. Also worth noting is Suzanne’s submersion into her fantasy world, the tortuous state of her mind not only because she’s lost Alex, but because she’s now left with nothing but her dull, ordinary existence.

That said, the novel does have its share of flaws. First, there are so many mentions and allusions to music and composers that the story flow drags and gets bogged down with details. Second, in spite of Suzanne’s predicament, she’s not sympathetic enough for the reader to care; in fact, none of the characters in the book are particularly likable. The novel is lacking in this important aspect, thus affecting the reader’s ability to be concerned with the outcome. Third, Alex’s widow comes out as the stereotypical ‘evil ex-wife’ and her conversations with Suzanne often sound stilted.

In spite of this, An Unfinished Score will be of special interest to musicians—especially viola and violin players—and lovers of classical music.