Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Markram Battles: Genesis of an Uprising--A Book Review ("You can't make me.")

I got an ARC (an Advanced Reader Copy) of this book from the author via e-mail. We've talked on "The Story Cartel" and she is super nice. Her story is awesome, too! :D Check out my review below!

The Magic Violinist, book review, Markram Battles: Genesis of an Uprising, M.C. Muhlenkamp, The Story Cartel,

Description: Markram Battles is a serialized collection of short stories. Life has changed. An alien race of evolved humans with supernatural abilities has taken over our planet, as the most recent annexation of their empire. Earth is now a sector where recruiters, also known as unit leaders, come to conscript female survivors into their combatant regiments—battle divisions intended to fight and die in an arena for the entertainment of the masses. The rules of the Battles are simple. Fight. Win. Or die trying. Seven, a unit leader trained in the Imperial Army with the sole purpose of fighting in the Battles, refuses to die in his pursuit of freedom. But when Thirteen, his new female recruit, defies the rules, she threatens to destroy everything he has worked so hard to achieve. Thirteen won’t give in. Not to him. Not to the system. Not to anyone. Except in order to live, she must. These are the stories of them who fight, without any possibility of escape.

Review: I really loved these stories. Each story was told from a different perspective and they were all short, but effective. The description was beautifully told and the story was told in past tense, a nice break from the present tense we've been seeing lots of nowadays. The stories reminded me of The Hunger Games, and if you liked that, you'll like this, too. :)

5 Cookies! :D

You can buy the book HERE for just $0.99 on Amazon!

You can download the book for FREE HERE (on "The Story Cartel") in exchange for your honest review!

You can visit the author's website HERE for more about Markram Battles: Genesis of an Uprising.

The official launch is tomorrow! Help support the author and download her book onto your Kindle!

(I received an ARC of this book. My opinions are completely my own).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Peeves

Here is another post prompted by "The Book Chewers."

Prompt: Book peeves. They're like pet peeves, but they're book related. What are yours?

1. When classics don't have the plot written on the back of the book and instead have things like, "Now with over 13 million copies in print and translated into ten languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal." (We don't all know what the book is about)!!!
2. When the author's name is bigger than the book title.
3. When I ask somebody if they've read a book and they say, "No, but I've watched the movie, and what's the point of reading the book now that I already know what's going to happen?" (Infuriating).
4. When I finish a book in a series and I still have to wait a year or two for the sequel to come out. (*COUGH* Divergent *COUGH*)
5. When authors are under the impression that teens swear all. The. Time.
6. When I have to read through three pages of unnecessary description to get to the good stuff.
7. When characters delete all of their photos because they're mad at their best friend/delete all of their stories because there's no way that they can become a writer. (This makes me cringe. As a writer, one of my worst fears is that my stories will somehow be destroyed. That's not something you can get back very easily).
8. When books have nothing but cliché characters in them. (I like a little more variety than "the jocks" and "the nerds.")
9. When fifteen (or so) characters are introduced right off the back. (They're hard to keep track of)!
10. When an author executes a poor love triangles. (Note to authors: They've been done to death and unless you can make them convincing, give it up. You're not fooling anyone).
11. When libraries block half of the title or the name of the library with a barcode or some other annoying sticker.
12. When books claim to be, "The next Harry Potter!" (They never are).

What are your Book peeves? Leave a comment! :D

(Psst! Check out Karoline's book review of Matched below)!

Matched Book Review

by Karoline Kingley

Note From MV: This is a post by Karoline Kingley, a fantastic writer, blogger, and lover of books. She's going to be contributing to my blog regularly, so I hope you all give her a warm welcome!

I recently read Matched by Ally Condie; the first book in the young adult dystopian trilogy. As someone who struggles to enjoy most modern fiction, I found this book enjoyable and would recommend it to most audiences. Without spoiling any major plot points, I’ll offer a quick synopsis.

The Magic Violinist, Matched, Ally Condie, Book Review

17 year old Cassia is going to find out who her match is. She knows The Society will only give her a spouse who is suitable and worthy, because The Society has never disappointed her before. Cassia is surprised yet thrilled when she learns that her match is her best friend Xander. What more could a girl want? However, after Xander’s face appears on the screen at the Match Banquet, another face flashes on the screen, and then disappears. Cassia recognizes the second face too: Ky Markham. Now Cassia must choose between security and passion, rebellion or safety. Ky or Xander.

From that sneak peek you may think this book is purely romance, but don’t be fooled! Cassia ends up having much bigger problems to solve while the boys in her life are pulling her in different directions. You could compare this book to The Hunger Games due to its totalitarian government and love triangle dilemma. Yet I found the plot unique enough to stand on its own, and after reading the sequel Crossed, I was thoroughly intrigued. One of my qualms with contemporary fiction is that the writing often strikes me as well…lazy. And while on occasion I did squint my eyes at a few sentences and ponder how they might have been written better (that’s just what writers do) overall, the author put in some beautiful metaphors and descriptions that were a real treat to imagine. If you’re looking for something modern and exciting without be too gory or mushy-gushy, I would highly recommend this book.


About Karoline Kingley:

Karoline Ott's profile photo I'm a 16 year old who enjoys writing, reading and blogging if course! I blog at "As a Teen Writer."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Writer's Camp--Day 2

Thanks to everyone for waiting patiently for this post! I won't share everything we did (because that would be a really long post) but I'll share my favorite parts.

Anyway, here goes Day 2 of my writer's camp!

We started off by sharing our most recent entry in our "Idea Notebooks." An "Idea Notebook" is a notebook that you write in every day for inspiration in your writing. Every morning you write down twenty images or ideas that are in your head. They can be simple, stupid, or make no sense, but the more specific the better. You don't have to like everything you write down (or even understand everything you write down), you just have to have twenty things. Here's an example from my notebook:

1. Chewed and bitten pencil
2. Pulled-out hair
3. Sleepy eyes
4. Melted ice cream
5. Apple computers
6. Ashes
7. Long-forgotten bookshelves
8. Dusty corners
9. Bed-head
10. Untied shoelaces
11. Pile of crumpled papers
12. Free writing
13. OCD
14. Blank pages
15. Tower
16. Burned-out stars
17. Curtain call
18. Imposters
19. Pretzel twists
20. Hunger

My "Idea Notebook" has been extremely helpful. I've found that most everything in my notebook makes for great subjects in poetry.

We then proceeded to talk about "Qualities of Good Writing." We brainstormed as a class to figure out what qualities of good writing we needed for every genre (whether it be contemporary, fantasy, poetry, non-fiction, an essay, or anything else). Here's what we came up with:

1. Focus (meaning you don't jump around from subject to subject without any natural transition).
2. Creativity
3. Originality
4. A good hook
5. Good organization/structure
6. Clarity
7. Flow (this goes along with focus--if you're going to change the subject, change it naturally so it's not jumpy and abrupt).
8. Proper grammar/spelling
9. Good word choice
10. Your purpose or target audience is clear (if you're writing for teens, it has to be clear that what you're writing is for teens. If your purpose is to help people become better writers, then you need to write something that shows that).

I also learned some new words that are good for writers to know:

-Figurative Language = similes, metaphors, and personification
-Cohesion = flow
-Coherence =  unity
-Mechanics = punctuation
-Diction = word choice

We then moved on to poetry. I wrote a poem dedicated to my favorite color (yellow):


Yellow is the sun,
A lemon,
A cat's eyes.
Yellow is the feeling of hello after a
Yellow is happiness,
And true.
Yellow is the color of me and you.
Yellow somehow manages to turn
Sour into
Lemons into lemonade.
Now isn't that neat?
Some might argue that yellow is cruel,
Turning sunshine into sweltering heat.
What a wicked tool.
But the yellow sun shines so we can
Follow the yellow brick road.
The yellow sun makes our smiles brighter
Like friendship or a happy code.
Yellow is the merry kitten who chases butterflies,
But can never catch a single one,
No matter how hard he tries.
Yellow is a happy thing,
Beautiful and true.
Yellow is the word I use to describe me and you.

We did some free writing, too. I wrote a short poem/narrative that eventually expanded into my final project that I shared with everyone. Here is the first stage of the piece (I'll share the final stage in my last post).

The Golden Gate of Promises

A child's black glove lies on a road sign,
Ripped and tattered,
A sign that winter is a thing of the past.
Spring is upon us.
Rejoice the fact that we have a chance.
While behind us may lie a field of broken dreams,
Ahead of us is the Golden Gate of Promises.

Challenge time! :D Write down twenty images or ideas that pop into your head and share them in the comments. I'm curious to find out if anyone starts an "Idea Notebook" after reading this post. ;)

(Psst! I've been doing a lot of posts around the internet lately. Here are the links to them):

"Top Ten Summer Reads"
"The Five-Draft Plan"
"Book Stack Saturday"
"Four Magical Items I'd Love To Own"

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Ugh, I haven't posted in forever. (Please don't hate me. I will post again soon. I swear upon the River Styx! Just after the Taylor Swift concert this Saturday . . .)

This is a reminder that all critique contest entries are due on July 21st. That's 3 days. Let's get those entries rolling in! :D

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Impossible Bucket List

"The Book Chewers" are hosting a weekly link-up. The first link-up was a few days ago, and their prompt was this.

Prompt: It's been said that a reader lives a thousand lives, and it's true. We have an advantage over the rest of the population. We sit on our beds, crack open a book, and we're whisked away to far-off lands where we meet fascinating characters and go on the finest adventures words can write. But this comes with disadvantages. Real life disappoints us. Other people just want to go on a cruise or ride in a hot-air-balloon. We'll always be looking for something slightly more ... magical. A reader's bucket list is an impossible bucket list. What's on your impossible list?

MV's Impossible Bucket List:

1. Attend Hogwarts and become a fully-trained witch.
2. Play Quidditch with the Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione behind the Burrow.
3. Buy an owl in Diagon Alley.
4. Drink Butterbeer in The Three Broomsticks.
5. Participate in the reenactment of The Battle of Honey Hill with Ethan.
6. Sit with Lena on her ceiling.
7. Have the brownies in Grandpa Sorenson's house cook me something delicious.
8. Go hunting with Katniss.
9. Travel in the Magic Treehouse.
10. Play Calvinball with Calvin and Hobbes.
11. Attend one of Maya's awesome birthday parties and race up the rock wall with her.
12. Read "An Imperial Affliction" and discuss it with Hazel and Augustus.
13. Send Hilly a chocolate pie.
14. Play soccer with Jared, Ian, Jamie, Melanie, and Wanda.
15. Eat at Bilbo's house with the dwarves.
16. Fence with Alanna.
17. Play Capture the Flag with Tris and Four.
18. Sit with Summer, Jack, and August at lunch.
19. Yell, "For Narnia!" in Narnia.
20. Become a member of Dumbledore's Army.

What's your impossible bucket list? Leave a comment! :D

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Characters Have Issues--TCWT Blog Chain

I've only now noticed how much I've tortured them.

WARNING: There are spoilers from my books. But I doubt any of you will be able to remember what happens to whom by the time you actually read my books.

Prompt: “Take any character from one of your books and put them in a therapy session. Write a (short!) scene about what happens. (You can include multiple characters and make it a group therapy session.)”

(I'm the therapist).

Me: Okay, is everyone here?

Cassandra: Nope. Emmett's late again.

Me: I should've known he wouldn't get here on time. We might as well get started. He'll show up later. Why are you all here?

James: Because you've tortured us.

Me: I think torture is a bit harsh . . .

Clelia: Not really. I've watched my friend almost get beaten up by her co-workers, I've almost starved to death, I've fought giant spiders with only a dagger, I've watched a girl get killed by another girl, and I've almost been killed by a crazy fog.

Me: All right, maybe I was a little over the top . . .

(Anya suddenly snorts).

Anya: That's all you've had to deal with? Man, you got off easy.

Clelia: Easy? Easy?

Anya: Yeah. I've been chased by goblins dozens of times, I've gotten beat up quite a few times by a boy with a huge sword that I can't manage to get rid of, I've watched the emerald I've stolen get taken back by goblins, I've watched my best friend die--

Ronald: But I came back.

Anya: Right. And I actually have died and come back to life. Oh, right after falling off of a clock tower. And then I almost died in a fire I set to a Healing House.

Me: Come on, guys. This isn't a contest.

Ronald: Hey, I've died before.

Anya: But I brought you back.

Ronald: It was still extremely terrifying.

James: I watched my little sister get killed. Doesn't that count for something?

Emmett: I accidentally killed my wife with a potion I brewed.

Clara: When did you get here?

Emmett: I'm a bandit. I sneaked in. What did you expect?

Clara: I watched my best friend get killed who didn't come back, and I died myself.

Cricket: But then you came back. I actually just died and stayed dead.

Stephanie: I've been chased by evil wizards all the way from Pennsylvania to New York.

Ivy: I was with her and I almost got killed by intergalactic space pirates.

Stephanie: By a sweater of doom.

Ivy: It hurt!

Me: I think we're all getting a little out of hand. We're supposed to be helping each other heal, not--

Nutty: I've been dumped in Antarctica!

Chippy: So have I! How is a chipmunk supposed to handle that?

Nutty: And a squirrel. I'm sitting right here.

Chippy: I've been chased by a dog . . . twice.

Katherine: Hey, I've watched six knights die when nobody else believed they were dead--

Kristin: So have I.

Katherine: --And I got chased by two knights who didn't believe us and thought we were crazy--

Kristin: So have I.

Katherine: --And I had to hide in a forest that had dangerous magical creatures in it--

Kristin: I did, too.

Katherine: --AND I fought in a battle against dangerous magical creatures that were trying to kill the queen. Kristin? Anything else you'd like to add?

Kristin: You forgot that your house was set on fire.

Katherine: Oh, right.

Me: Okay, let's stop all of this and get started with--

Cornelia: I was chased by trolls and a giant all over the United States! Then when I finally got back to Fantasya I had to fight in a battle that killed several friends. And then I had to go to the castle Gargamouth was in and stand by while Cassandra tried to defeat him! Oh yeah, and my daughter died. I knew letting her go to try and defeat the trolls was a bad idea.

Cricket: It wasn't my fault, it was Clara's! If she had warned me in time about that troll . . .

Clara: Hey! I was heartbroken!

Cricket: I'm just kidding.

Cassandra: I did all that, plus become an orphan at age two, not know if my sister was alive until eight years later, get taken in right after my parents died by a kind unicorn named Caroline who died just a few years later, and then--just when I thought things were going well--my husband gets killed.

(Everyone stares at Cassandra in stunned silence).

Me: You win.

How traumatized are your characters? As you can see, mine all have severe cases of PTSD. Leave a comment! :D

July 9th – 
(You are here)
26th – (We’ll be announcing the topic for next month’s chain.)

Sunday, July 7, 2013


I've been adding labels to my posts recently. If any of you were confused by the two most recent posts that were out of place, now you know why.

(Make sure you check out my blog anniversary post! Scroll down below, you can't miss the fireworks)! ;)

Blog Anniversary

(I can't believe I never celebrated this before now)!

fireworks, celebration, anniversary, blog, five

Five years ago today, I published my first ever blog post. I was eight back then and I even had a different nickname. ;)

In celebration of this event, I'm giving away free chapter critiques.

That's right. Three lucky winners will win a free one chapter (max 2,000 words) critique, critiqued by me.

(Don't worry, I'm not mean).

How do I enter?

1. Write up a short story about a dog experiencing summer for the first time. What does he think of it all? What does she see or smell? No more than 1,000 words, please.

2. Post the story on your blog, and link back to my blog on the post. If you don't have a blog, you can e-mail me at themagicviolinist(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

3. Post a comment saying that you've entered and leave a link to your blog.

4. Submit your entries by July 21st. That gives you two weeks.

5. I will be posting the three winners on my blog, so subscribe if you want to find out if you won! You can subscribe to my blog by e-mail if you scroll up to the upper, right corner.

6. Have fun! :D

I will be judging based on mainly creativity, but if your story has too many spelling or grammar mistakes, I will most likely ignore it (sorry, but I have little patience for those sorts of things). Spellchecker is your friend.

Any questions? Please e-mail me at themagicviolinist(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Are you ready? Get set . . . GO!!!! :D

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July! :D

Happy fourth, everyone! :D You can expect a post about Day 2 of my writer's camp in a few days, but for now, check out my introduction post on "The Book Chewers." Click HERE.