KP Book Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Everyone in the galaxy has a gift, similar to a magical talent, which develops during puberty. Few have a fate, an inevitable future event in their lives. Akos and his brother have fates, which makes them dangerous, despite being only the children of a farmer and an oracle. Cyra and her older brother, the children of a bloodthirsty emperor, also have fates. When their identities and fates are revealed, the lives of these four intertwine in ways that no one, not even the oracles, foresaw.

Carve_the_MarkVeronica Roth, author of the Divergent Series, recently released her latest novel, Carve the Mark. It’s a mixture of fantasy, dystopian, light romance, historical reimagining, and, most strongly, science fiction. Spaceships, advanced technology, and foreign planets comprise a fantastic world full of complex cultures and beautiful imagery. Yet, extraordinary abilities and prophesying exist alongside Roman coliseums, tyrannical emperors, and intentions of world dominance. Roth layers these literary elements over each other to form an unforgettable story world.

Carve the Mark explores many deep, even dark, themes. It is not recommended for readers younger than fourteen. Cyra suffers constant, excruciating pain, which she is capable of sharing with others through a single touch. As the daughter and sister of bloodthirsty emperors, she becomes a tool for their use. Readers need only imagine the pain Cyra experiences to realize how dark the themes must be for her to have a successful character arc. [Read more…]

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Emily Kopf is a voracious reader with a love of all things fantasy, fairy-tale, and happily-ever-after. She is a twenty-something college student studying English Literature and Christian Studies to learn how to harness her two passions into some kind of career in the Christian book-ish world. In the meantime, she writes Zerina Blossom’s Books, reads and reviews books constantly, and dreams of faraway places and a handsome prince. Back in the real world, you can find her making pretzels, volunteering at church, crafting beautiful things, and spending time with friends and family.

KP Book Review: The Lost Girl of Astor Street

By M. R. Shupp

If your best friend was kidnapped, to what lengths would you go to bring her home?

Piper Sail is an eighteen-year-old woman living amidst the jazzy 1920s. When her best friend, Lydia, goes missing, Piper breaks the societal expectations for a woman her age and investigates the disappearance. She earns the disapproval of many, but she does catch the eye of a handsome detective named Mariano.The_Lost_Girl_of_Astor_Street Together, they continue to search, but Piper discovers information that makes her believe Lydia’s abduction is part of a bigger scheme.

Stephanie Morrill’s novel will transport you to the heart of glitzy 1920s Chicago, complete with flapper dresses, speakeasies, mobsters, and corruption. When I began reading the story, I was surprised at how quickly it came to life. Morrill contrasted the affluence of Astor Street against the underbelly of Chicago through detailed description that blew me away. [Read more…]

KP Book Review: Gunner’s Run

By Bethany Melton

Are you a World War II fanatic like me? If tales of war heroes and rugged survival immediately draw your imagination into the excitement of historical drama, then I have a must-read for you.

Nineteen-year-old Jim Yoder doesn’t consider himself a hero. He would be the first to admit his fear and doubt in the face of the impending perils of World War II. Jim’s unlikely and painful journey toward discovering faith in someone far more powerful than the Axis powers is only one aspect of the exhilarating novel, Gunner’s Run.Gunner_s_Run

Shortly after graduating high school and meeting his sweetheart, Margo, Jim is enlisted as a USAAF gunner with the 44th bombardment group in the war that rages across the ocean. Though his religious father opposes Christian involvement in war, Jim is eager to join the fight for freedom as an Ally. As each air raid mission intensifies, however, Jim longs for home and for the war to end soon. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, Jim finds himself fleeing as a downed escapee in enemy territory. This ordeal changes the young atheist’s life forever. Will he ever see his home or family again? [Read more…]

KP Book Review: For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund

From birth, Lady Sabine’s arm has been blotched by a bizarre birthmark. In a culture where beauty is regarded as symbolizing the state of a person’s soul, a slip of her glove could have her branded as a witch and killed. But despite all the pressure, Sabine dreams of finding acceptance from her friends, community, and God.For_Love_and_Honor

For Love and Honor is the third and final book in Jody Hedlund’s An Uncertain Choice series. Although readable as a standalone novel, it features many of the main characters from the first book in the series, namely Sir Bennet, Sabine’s counterpart. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Emily Kopf
Emily Kopf is a voracious reader with a love of all things fantasy, fairy-tale, and happily-ever-after. She is a twenty-something college student studying English Literature and Christian Studies to learn how to harness her two passions into some kind of career in the Christian book-ish world. In the meantime, she writes Zerina Blossom’s Books, reads and reviews books constantly, and dreams of faraway places and a handsome prince. Back in the real world, you can find her making pretzels, volunteering at church, crafting beautiful things, and spending time with friends and family.

KP Book Review: The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Some books that start out bitter end up being the sweetest of all.

C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle lacks the charm, magic, and wonder the preceding stories possessed. An unsettling gloom lurks over the land as the story opens with two of the few talking animals left in Narnia, an ape named Shift and a donkey called Puzzle.The_Last_Battle When Shift and Puzzle find a lion skin, the ape gets the brilliant idea to masquerade his dumb donkey friend as the great lion Aslan, fooling many. Upon hearing the news that Aslan has been spotted in the country, King Tiran and Jewel the unicorn are thrilled, until they realize terrible deeds are being performed in Aslan’s name. Dryads are being murdered, talking horses abused, and Calmorenes are invading.

“Do you think I care if Aslan dooms me to death?” said the King. “That would be nothing, nothing at all. Would it not be better to be dead than to have this horrible fear that Aslan has come and is not like the Aslan we have believed in and longed for? It is as if the sun rose one day and were a black sun.” (Pg. 30)

[Read more…]

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Christine Eaton is a college student who loves stories and hopes to publish children’s books. Wearing flip-flops in December, frequenting the beach, and taking every opportunity to visit Disneyland, Christine relishes living in sunny Southern California. She can usually be found happily sipping tea, memorizing lines from the latest play she is a part of, caving into her addiction to chocolate, writing encouraging snail mail, or listening to music, which is usually something folky like Andrew Peterson or the Gray Havens, or some Broadway musical (and rarely anything landing between those two categories.) Art is one of her largest passions, and her walls are covered in her sketches and paintings. Christine yearns to use her skills to glorify God by illustrating and writing her own children’s books that will teach children more about Jesus. Some of her favorite authors include A.S. Peterson, Francine Rivers, Louisa May Alcott, and Andrew Peterson. She is so thankful for the opportunity to manage Kingdom Pen’s social media accounts and help out around the Kingdom wherever she can. From the encouragement, enthusiastic young Christian writers, and her fellow staff members, KP holds a huge place in her heart and she is excited about encouraging young writers to write well and glorify God through their writing.

KP Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” The perplexity of this newspaper ad catches the attention of a boy named Reynie Muldoon, who is indeed gifted and yearns to achieve purpose outside the walls of Stonetown Orphanage.

The_Mysterious_Benedict_Society

Upon responding to the ad, Reynie and dozens of other children find themselves taking a test that is not an average multiple-choice exam. Rather, it is bizarre, seemingly impossible, and altogether quite insane. The participants are quizzed with random questions pertaining to math, geography, science, and other subjects of academic nature—in addition to humility, kindness, and courage. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Christi Eaton
Christine Eaton is a college student who loves stories and hopes to publish children’s books. Wearing flip-flops in December, frequenting the beach, and taking every opportunity to visit Disneyland, Christine relishes living in sunny Southern California. She can usually be found happily sipping tea, memorizing lines from the latest play she is a part of, caving into her addiction to chocolate, writing encouraging snail mail, or listening to music, which is usually something folky like Andrew Peterson or the Gray Havens, or some Broadway musical (and rarely anything landing between those two categories.) Art is one of her largest passions, and her walls are covered in her sketches and paintings. Christine yearns to use her skills to glorify God by illustrating and writing her own children’s books that will teach children more about Jesus. Some of her favorite authors include A.S. Peterson, Francine Rivers, Louisa May Alcott, and Andrew Peterson. She is so thankful for the opportunity to manage Kingdom Pen’s social media accounts and help out around the Kingdom wherever she can. From the encouragement, enthusiastic young Christian writers, and her fellow staff members, KP holds a huge place in her heart and she is excited about encouraging young writers to write well and glorify God through their writing.

KP Book Review: Waterfall

By KayleighAnne E. Stanton

What if our time collided with another? What would happen to our world? Who would we become?

See the answers unfold in Waterfall, book one of the River of Time series.

Every summer, sisters Gabi and Lia have reluctantly traveled to the beautiful country of Italy with their parents, who seem to care more about archeology than their daughters. After the death of their father, the girls stumble across Etruscan ruins their parents have long been hunting for. One hot, dusty day the sisters sneak off to examine the tomb, artifacts, and strange handprints no one can explain.KP_Book_Review_Waterfall

When the girls touch the handprints, they are pulled into a whirlwind that sweeps them into fourteenth-century Italy, where life is difficult. The sisters get separated, and Gabi searches desperately for Lia—and a way to return home. [Read more…]

KP Book Review: Wars of the Realm Trilogy

Since my early teens, I’ve been a huge fan of The Kingdom Series and The Knights of Arrethtrae. Both have rendered rereading and hold an honored spot on my bookshelf. When I heard that Chuck Black was writing a new series, I was elated. But then life became distracting, my free time decreased, and after skimming the synopsis for Cloak of the Light, I had mixed feelings about it. As far as I could tell, the book featured no sword fights, chivalry, castles, biblical parallels, or any of the elements that drew me to Chuck Black’s other works. On top of that, a couple people warned me that the overall writing quality was poor.Wars_of_the_Realm_Trilogy

However, I am fiercely loyal to authors who have captivated me in the past. So, in spite of my misgivings and low expectations, I eventually bought the Wars of the Realm trilogy when I had a spare Amazon gift card. I’m glad I did, because the first book, and the sequels, gripped my attention more than any Christian fiction has for a long time. [Read more…]

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Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as Graphics Coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being an Associate Editor at Castle Gate Press and the Copy Editor/Director of Graphics for Kingdom Pen. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

KP Book Review: A Peep Behind the Scenes

Many today are unfamiliar with both Mrs. O. F. Walton and her work A Peep Behind the Scenes, which was originally published in 1877. Although it may not be considered a literary classic nowadays, it still is a remarkable story. By the end of the 1800s, A Peep Behind the Scenes outsold Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter by two million copies.A_Peep_Behind_the_Scenes

Walton’s story takes you “behind the scenes” of what seems to be the glittering life of the traveling carnival. The story focuses on a little girl named Rosalie. While she struggles with the life of the fair, dealing with her harsh father, and trying to care for her sick mother, Rosalie’s story is not unlike a typical Charles Dickens novel. However, A Peep Behind the Scenes contains a sweetness not commonly found in Dickens’ novels. When a gentleman visiting the carnival gives little Rosalie a picture depicting a lost sheep, the child learns of The Good Shepherd and that she is like that lost lamb needing a Savior. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Christi Eaton
Christine Eaton is a college student who loves stories and hopes to publish children’s books. Wearing flip-flops in December, frequenting the beach, and taking every opportunity to visit Disneyland, Christine relishes living in sunny Southern California. She can usually be found happily sipping tea, memorizing lines from the latest play she is a part of, caving into her addiction to chocolate, writing encouraging snail mail, or listening to music, which is usually something folky like Andrew Peterson or the Gray Havens, or some Broadway musical (and rarely anything landing between those two categories.) Art is one of her largest passions, and her walls are covered in her sketches and paintings. Christine yearns to use her skills to glorify God by illustrating and writing her own children’s books that will teach children more about Jesus. Some of her favorite authors include A.S. Peterson, Francine Rivers, Louisa May Alcott, and Andrew Peterson. She is so thankful for the opportunity to manage Kingdom Pen’s social media accounts and help out around the Kingdom wherever she can. From the encouragement, enthusiastic young Christian writers, and her fellow staff members, KP holds a huge place in her heart and she is excited about encouraging young writers to write well and glorify God through their writing.

KP Book Review: 5 Editors Tackle The 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing by C.S. Lakin et al.

Sometimes you read a book about writing and enjoy it, but you never think about it after you put it back on the shelf. Other times a book immediately earns a spot in your section of writing resources that you reference regularly.

This book is definitely one of the latter.12_Fatal_Flaws_of_Fiction_Writing

C.S. Lakin, the author of over a dozen novels and several books on fiction writing, joins four other editors to do what the title says: tackle the twelve fatal flaws of fiction writing. These flaws include everything from backstory dumps and POV violations, to overwriting and pacing problems. And all of the editor’s solutions to these flaws are excellent. [Read more…]

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Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.