Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It’s Called Steampunk…And I Like It!

Steam*punk [steem-puhngk] noun
A subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.

Side note: There seems to be a huge debate on what is and is not actually steampunk. With all due respect, I’m seriously not here to argue that point as I am unqualified to do so.

Still don’t understand? Here’s a list of some movies I’ve seen that claim the “steampunk” genre:

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Sleepy Hollow (Staring Johnny Depp…Scream!)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Stardust (Highly recommend this movie)
The Brothers Grimm
The Prestige (Excellent movie)

Wow, it appears that I really like steampunk movies! That said, I would like to share my recent experience of having read my very first steampunk novel. Magnificent Devices is the first book in Shelley Adina’s Lady Of Devices steampunk series. Here is a short advertisement found on Ms. Adina’s website.

Lady Of Devices – Magnificent Devices

London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.

At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices.

When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his…if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals…

This little blurb really caught my attention, but I have to admit it was the $0.00 price tag that sold me on the book. One click and the book popped up on my Kindle App. How easy is that? But here’s a little hint, I checked the price of the book on Kindle today, 2-26-13 and it’s already gone up to .99 cents, so hurry up and get it while it’s still cheap!

I had a bit of a hard time getting into the first chapter of the book because I didn’t know what to expect, but by chapter two I was completely in the groove. Shelley doesn’t mention anything about it in the book’s cover copy, and I don’t think it would cause any spoilers, but the best part of the book for me started in chapter 14 when she meets her new gang.

Shelley wrote the chapters about the children perfectly, from their thick cockney accents to their disheveled attire. I fell in love with them and raced through to the end of the book.

I would highly recommend this book. What have you got to lose, but .99 cents? How much did I like it? So much that I bought book two, Her Own Devices and book three, also called Magnificent Devices, earlier today.  Can’t wait to dive into these steampunk offerings. Bravo Shelley Adina on a job well done!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Author Joyce Magnin Continues to Inspire Young Readers with a Tasty New Book

“Hope is the thing with feathers.” ~ Emily Dickinson

Twelve-year-old Wilma Sue discovers the ultimate comfort food in Joyce Magnin’s CAKE: Love, Chickens and a Taste of the Peculiar , a sweet tale complete with icing, surprises, love, and just the right amount of nuts.

Mary Poppins meets Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle in this new story by the celebrated author of Carrying Mason. Wilma Sue seems destined to hop from one foster home to the next—until she is sent to live with sisters and retired missionaries, Ruth and Naomi. But do they really care about Wilma Sue, or are they just looking for a Cinderella-style farmhand to help raise their chickens and bake cakes?

As Wilma Sue adjusts to her new surroundings and helping Naomi deliver “special” cakes to the neighbors, she discovers something strange that happens to people who eat the cakes. Did Mrs. Snipplesmith’s chair really rise off the floor? Was that a gold fish in the lemonade?

Wilma Sue starts looking for answers and secret ingredients in these mysterious cakes. While doing so, she makes a new friend, Penny, and discovers what it feels like to be truly loved.

But when Penny and her mother hit a rough patch, Wilma Sue decides to try her own hand at baking a special cake—with disastrous results. Then tragedy strikes the chickens, and all fingers point to Wilma Sue—just when she was starting to believe she had finally found a permanent home with Ruth and Naomi.

Magnin takes Wilma Sue and readers on a journey to find faith in themselves and those around them. Fans will learn, along with Wilma Sue, that it’s not yummy desserts and magic that cures, but two very special ingredients: love and hope.


I have been so excited for the success of Cake. There has been tremendous praise for this book including a coveted Starred Review from Kirkus Reviews. Here’s a snippet from the full review:

“Magnin maintains a delicate balance between a fablelike fantasy and reality fiction as Wilma Sue gradually discovers that not only is she eminently worthy of love, but that she can also help the people around her by loving them. Wilma’s captivating, clever language and short declarative sentences perfectly exemplify her wary but reverential view of the world.”

For me, there is nothing more magical and amazing than having the privilege to write for this age group. Unless I have the opportunity to sit with young people and talk about the power of story and words and the joy of books.

Here is what another reader has said about Cake:
“Cake is the perfect book for a family read along. There is a lot of truth among the stories of taking care of chickens and baking cakes. There are also some wonderful and of course quirky characters. Magnin’s humor also shines through, especially in her naming and descriptions of the characters. Who couldn’t feel a bit wary of a child named Penelope Pigsworthy or in awe of an opera singer named Ramona Von Tickle? There are also a lot of interesting tidbits to discuss along the way — from the country of Malawi to the care and feeding of chickens to the great classic Beowulf. Yes, all that and a lot of fun. My only complaint is that I had a readers copy that did not include the illustrations of the goings on within the book. From the cover illustration, I can imagine they add a great deal to the telling of the story. So if you are looking for a book for your 9 – 12 year old children or grandchildren, get a copy of Cake, and then schedule some family time for reading fun. Highly Recommended.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joyce Magnin is the author of five novels; including the popular Bright’s Pond series and the 2011 middle grade novel Carrying Mason. She is also a frequent speaker and writing instructor. Magnin lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania.
Joyce loves to visit schools, libraries, and churches and meet with kids about books and writing. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
To schedule an interview with Joyce Magnin, or receive a review copy of CAKE, please contact Candice Frederick at DJC Communications: 212-971-9707,