Posts Tagged ‘violin novels’

Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s The Four Seasons series

Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s stories and novels reflect her national pride. Emily-Jane began her writing career writing book reviews. She is currently a regular book reviewer for allbookreviews.com and her reviews appear on many other online sites as well as book jackets. Emily-Jane teaches creative writing to young people and regularly gives presentations in local schools and senior’s residences. Other writing accomplishments include articles in the 2005 and 2010 edition of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, as well as several books, Spring (PublishAmerica 2005), Summer (Baico 2007), Autumn (Baico 2009), Ukulele Yukon (Baico 2006), Letters From Inside: The Notes and Nuggets of Margaret Marsh (Baico 2006), It Happened in Canada (Baico 2007), It Happened in Canada Book 2 (Baico, 2010), Songs of the Voyageurs (Baico, 2010), The Creative Spirit (Baico 2008), Beyond the Ordinary (Baico 2008), Beyond the Ordinary…And More (Baico 2008) and Personal Notes (Moosehide Books 2008). Emily-Jane’s book, The Whistling Bishop (Baico 2008), was named Finalist in the 2009 Indie Book Awards. This award-winning author believes in writing about Canada; but she also believes in writing about extra-ordinary people – the real people who made our country a great nation. The author may be reached by email at: ejomusic@sympatico.ca; or by mail at: 11 Stradwick Ave., Nepean, Ontario K2J 2X3. Or, check her website at: www3.sympatico.ca/mistymo

THE FOUR SEASONS SERIES


Spring
PublishAmerica: 2005
ISBN: 1-4137-7615-9
Price: $25.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author: ejhomusic@gmail.com
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/)
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eq4X1r8rYR4

Synopsis:

In 1725, Antonio Vivaldi wrote the music for The Four Seasons. He penned a poem for each of the four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. Each season has its reason, its significance, its purpose, its own symbolism. Life is like the four seasons. Spring is Melanie Harris’s story. She is a talented young violinist with a valuable Grancino violin. There is a secret inside her violin, a secret only she and her mother should know; but somehow others have found out. The story follows a journey of Melanie’s growth as a musician, the people she meets, the friends she makes, the losses she suffers. Vivaldi’s music is the cornerstone of Melanie’s musical career as well as her life as she takes her instrument and her music around the world. Each stage of Melanie’s life progresses like a season of the year, a musical/poetic symbol as in Vivaldi’s music. Melanie is the music she loves best, The Four Seasons.

Summer
Baico: 2007
ISBN: 978-1-897449-02-8
Price: $22.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author: ejhomusic@gmail.com
Chapters (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/)
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-OtAO7IYQk

Synopsis:

In 1725, Antonio Vivaldi wrote the music for The Four Seasons. He penned a poem for each of the four seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. Each season has its reason, its significance, its purpose, its own symbolism. Life is like the four seasons. Summer is but one of the seasons of the year; one of the seasons of Vivaldi’s masterpiece The Four Seasons. Summer is the story of Hope Jones, a young Gitxsan fiddler from northern British Columbia, Canada. Hope has a rare musical talent and what everyone believes is a very valuable Stradivarius violin. Is it the mysterious missing ‘Juliet’? As Hope grows and matures in her music, she learns more about her violin, the romance and mystery that surrounds it and the very dangerous family that continually threatens her in their attempts to claim it. Hope’s life follows the four seasons of Vivaldi’s music, much like life unfolds through the seasons. Summer is but one story in Vivaldi’s musical journey. Summer is the sequel to the popular novel, Spring published by PublishAmerica (2006).

Autumn
Baico: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-926596-42-6
Price: $24.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author: ejhomusic@gmail.com
Chapters (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/)
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m08Ah35QyL0

Synopsis:

Martha Kapakatoak is a young Inuit girl with a passion for music. She has a talent and an instrument that was passed down to her by her ancestors. She is a self-taught pianist because in Iqaluit, the capital city of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut, there are no piano teachers. In fact, her piano is the only real acoustic piano in the entire community and it is sadly in need of repair and a good tuning. A square piano, the instrument was brought over to Canada’s Far North in the mid-1800s, and dragged across the tundra on a dogsled. It is the family’s most treasured heirloom, and one of the music world’s greatest unsolved mysteries. Autumn is Martha’s story, a story that takes music from the concert hall to the vacant spaces of the northern tundra. It is a story that interweaves with the other stories from The Four Seasons series and its characters. Melanie Harris, the famous violinist from Spring (PublishAmerica, 2005), the first book in The Four Seasons series, and Hope Jones, the Gitxsan fiddler-turned-classical violinist from Summer (Baico, 2008), the second book in The Four Seasons series, join Martha in an adventure of music and mystery and a race to discover the piano’s true history before someone else gets hurt. Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s Autumn is the third book in The Four Seasons series. It follows rave reviews of the first two books, which were described as having “a classic charm” (Strings May 2008) with a plot that “grows on you with its deepening chords and situations” (Writer’s Digest 2009).

COMING SOON:

The Fourth and Final book of The Four Seasons series:

Winter

“Winter”, is not Adina’s nor Alon’s story; but rather a story that haunts the next generation, Adina’s son, Joseph. The novel follows a mystery that surrounds a priceless cello, one that will inevitably lead Joseph from the spotlight as a brilliant cellist through the depths of despair as he struggles with substance abuse following a horrific accident that almost costs him his life. The mystery digs deep into Joseph’s ancestral past to reveal an unresolved tragedy from a previous century that continues to haunt the instrument and the man who plays it. This mystery will reveal facts that had gone undisclosed since the incarceration of the Jews of Paris and someone once thought lost is found again. “Winter” follows in the popular tradition of my previous three novels, “Spring”, “Summer” and “Autumn”, intertwining the characters from the earlier novels as the characters struggle to solve each other’s mysteries.

Website: http://www3.sympatico.ca/mistymo/
Blog: http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1312163572

Interview with Kathi Baron, author of SHATTERED

What was your inspiration for Shattered?

In the past, as an occupational therapist, I worked with teens who have experienced horrific abuse. As they each worked to heal, it was inspiring to witness their transformations. I wanted to do a novel to honor their resiliency.

Why the violin and not something else? What about this instrument got your attention?

I started really liking the violin when I discovered the Dixie Chicks. I enjoy all the different ways Martie Maquire uses her violin within their different songs. I’m especially attracted to the versatility of this instrument and enjoy hearing and seeing it played classically as well as alternatively. Plus, I love the way it looks. I thought it would be interesting and fun to write about a teen violinist and it was a wonderful experience to get to enter a musician’s world via the writing of Shattered.

Tell us three words that describe your protagonist.

Cassie is passionate, gifted, and resilient.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this novel? Did you have to do a lot of research about violin playing?

The most challenging part of writing this novel was trying to figure out a structure for it. Since it’s about intergenerational child abuse, it’s Cassie’s story, her dad’s story, and also, her grandfather’s story. It was difficult for me to write it so the reader could experience it as Cassie’s story, but also learn about her father and grandfather. I wrote it in several formats and it wasn’t “nailed down” until I received guidance from my publisher, Evelyn Fazio.

I did do a lot of research about the violin which was my favorite part of writing this book. I knew absolutely nothing about the violin and had to start very basic, like learning the names of its parts. Very early on, I realized I wouldn’t be able to write this story unless I had a violinist to consult. I got very lucky when Jenny Cappelli of the Cappelli Institute agreed to help me. She’s a violinist and teacher of performers in the Chicago Youth Symphony and allowed me to email her any and all questions. She invited me to observe a lesson with one of her students and I took a lot of notes. I also visited a violin workshop at Kagan and Gaines Music Store to see the many ways a violin can break. (That was a sad day). The owner, Joseph Kali researched and chose the Carlo Bergonzi violin for Cassie. I also read a lot of bios of violinists on their websites and listened to a lot of different kinds of violin music. I attended a Chicago Youth Symphony concert and swear I saw Cassie on stage! I read Violin Dreams by Arnold Steinhardt and The Soloist by Mark Salzman, as well as a lot of issues of Strings magazine.

What is your writing schedule like?

Currently, I work part-time in an outpatient behavioral health program for adults. I’m there Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. So I view Wednesday and Friday as my work days as well, except that I’m working at my writing. I try to journal every day to keep my mind in practice. On my “writing days,” I tend to work for 6-8 hours on these days. I’m not always writing though. Sometimes I’m researching, or interviewing a consultant, or reading craft or fictions books to support the work. I have been known to steal away to a hotel for a weekend so that I can totally immerse myself in the process. It allows me to get some momentum going or to do the real detailed parts of a novel that require intense focus/freedom from interruptions.

Please share with my readers a bit about your road to publication. How did you find WestSide Books?

My journey to this book took 13 years. Before Shattered, I wrote 2 novels, 5 short stories, 2 picture book manuscripts, many, many poems and a non-fiction essay. I’ve submitted all of these pieces to publishers, contests and literary journals over the years. None of them have been accepted for publication. However, each piece offered me opportunities to learn about pacing, page turning, plot, point of view, tense and dialogue.

After the 2 novels were rejected, I decided to attend the Vermont College MFA Writing for Children and Young Adults program. During the 2 years that I was there, I focused on writing Shattered. After graduation, I revised it and submitted it to 15 publishers and received rejections from all of them.

My classmate, Angela Morrison, had also written a novel that didn’t sell either. She invited me to join her in revising and so over the course of 6 months, we swapped manuscripts each month until we completed a new version of our novels. Around this time, WestSide Books sent a letter to Vermont College inviting alumni to submit young adult novels. From the description of the type of novels they were looking for, Shattered was a good fit. I almost didn’t submit it though because I didn’t want to deal with rejection. Angela encouraged me to send it and I did. Within a few months, an offer came from WestSide and within three weeks, Angela sold her novel, Taken by Storm, to Razorbill. It has been a pure thrill to see both of our books on shelves in bookstores!

What is your greatest challenge as an author?

My greatest challenge is choosing which details or scenes to use. As an occupational therapist, I’m a trained observer. In a therapeutic process, I never know which detail or situation that a patient shares with me will have meaning to the future process, so I tend to absorb as much as I can about a person as I work with them. This gets in my way as a writer, making it difficult for me to figure out which things are relevant to character development, scene creation, or the overall plot. So initially, I tend write a lot of words and eventually, I end up doing a lot of deleting.

What is the single most important tip of advice you’d give new writers?

Focus your energy on developing your craft—on doing your best work—and not on getting published.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

“Focus on doing your best work and not on getting published.”

What’s next for Kathi Baron?

I’m currently working on a young adult novel that I’m hoping to submit to WestSide Books in a few months (after I figure out what to delete!)

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!

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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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.

New featured book: SHATTERED, by Kathi Baron

Shattered
by Kathi Baron

Book description: Teen violin prodigy Cassie has been tiptoeing around her father, whose moods have become increasingly explosive. After he destroys her beloved and valuable violin in a sudden rage, Cassie, shocked, runs away, eventually seeking refuge in a homeless shelter. She later learns that her father, a former violinist, was physically beaten as a child by her grandfather, a painful secret he’s kept hidden from his family and the cause of his violent outbursts. With all of their lives shattered in some way, Cassie’s family must struggle to repair their broken relationships. As Cassie moves forward, she ultimately finds a way to help others, having developed compassion through her own painful experiences. Written in lyrical prose, Shattered tells the moving story of how one girl finds inner strength through music.

Praise for Shattered:

“This is a novel about picking up pieces, told in a voice that is both poetic and compelling. Kathi Baron’s Shattered has perfect pitch.”

—Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath, a Newbery Honor Book and National Book Award Finalist

“It takes a special kind of author to create an emotional journey that opens our hearts. Kathi Baron is that kind of storyteller and Shattered is that kind of book.”

—Louise Hawes, author of The Vanishing Point and Waiting for Christopher, both New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age, and Rosey in the Present Tense,
a YALSA Popular Paperback

More information from the publisher, Westside Books.

Review of GOOD ENOUGH, by Paula Yoo

Book Description

How to make your Korean parents happy:

1. Get a perfect score on the SATs.
2. Get into HarvardYalePrinceton.
3. Don’t talk to boys.*

Patti’s parents expect nothing less than the best from their Korean-American daughter. Everything she does affects her chances of getting into an Ivy League school. So winning assistant concertmaster in her All-State violin competition and earning less than 2300 on her SATs is simply not good enough.

But Patti’s discovering that there’s more to life than the Ivy League. To start with, there’s Cute Trumpet Guy. He’s funny, he’s talented, and he looks exactly like the lead singer of Patti’s favorite band. Then, of course, there’s her love of the violin. Not to mention cool rock concerts. And anyway, what if Patti doesn’t want to go to HarvardYalePrinceton after all?

Paula Yoo scores big in her hilarious debut novel about an overachiever who longs to fit in and strives to stand out. The pressure is on!

*Boys will distract you from your studies.

My review:

GOOD ENOUGH is about a brilliant Korean-American teenaged girl who has a dilemma: should she attend an Ivy League school and pursue a career in law or medicine–as her strict and ambitious parents want her to do–or should she follow her heart and go for what she loves most, playing the violin. This last choice may not bring her much money or success, but it may bring her joy. So the novel has an universal theme: Money and status doesn’t necessarily define success and happiness.

The story begins when Patti is in her senior year of high school. She’s in the process of applying to universities and preparing for her college entrance exams, all the while trying to keep up with her demanding classes and position as the second violinist in the All-State orchestra. Her parents only add to her stress. Though it’s clear they love her, they push her to the extreme, afraid she won’t ‘make it’–and to them, the only way to ‘make it’ is to be admitted to Harvard, Yale or Princeton.

Then she becomes infatuated with a boy at school. Though she’s enough focused on her work not to be too distracted by him, their friendship sends her parents into utter panic, especially when she escapes Sunday church club to play in his rock band!

Finally Patti has to make a decision: will she live her life or the life her parents want her to live for them? Will she choose happiness over money and status?

I enjoyed reading this young adult novel so much, I finished it in two days. Not only because the protagonist is a violinist, but because of the way the author brings her to life with all her struggles and dilemmas and also because the writing is, put simply, very good.

The writing is clever, witty, yet emotional and sensitive at the same time. I laughed out loud many times. The protagonist comes across as a genuine person. I’m not not surprised, since in my previous interview with the author she mentions that the story is based on her own life growing up. Another great aspect of this book is that all references about music and violin playing are so real. When the author is a violinist herself, that makes all the difference. The prose shines with authenticity.

GOOD ENOUGH is a light, fun read–but it also has the substance of a serious work of fiction. Perhaps this is what impressed me most about this book.

Violinist of all ages will surely enjoy Patti’s story. Highly recommended!

Purchase the book HERE.