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…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
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 student at Providence Christian College 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: Little Women

“Write a book for girls,” Louisa May Alcott’s publisher once told her. By writing what she knew and basing the story off her family, Alcott managed to create something amazing. Generations later, through the book, multiple movie adaptations, and even a musical, the four heroines still live on and are beloved by all who read Little Women.little_women

Little Women is set during the Civil War, and the story focuses on four sisters who struggle with living in poverty while their father is away fighting. The plot line may tend to move slowly as Alcott dwells on daily life, family, and relationships, but this is the reason the story has been beloved for so long. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Christi Eaton
Christine Eaton is a student at Providence Christian College 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 Scarlet Letter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

[Spoiler Warning: Since this book is a classic and a couple centuries old, the ending will be discussed in this review.]

After two long years, Hester Prynne’s husband returns to America to find his wife charged with adultery for having a child while he was absent, publicly rebuked for her sin, and forced to wear a scarlet letter A on the front of her clothing for the rest of her life. Swearing vengeance on the man who slept with his wife, Hester’s husband sets out on a quest to identify the adulterer.the_scarlet_letter

The Scarlet Letter has long been a staple on high school literature lists. Often it is used as an example of what was wrong with the Puritans, and Christianity in general. However, although the intolerance and cruelty of the Puritans may be the most prominent facet of Christianity in this book, if you dig a little deeper, the story exhibits a strong Christian message. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
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.

KP Book Review: The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic

“On a dark night in a dense forest, while the great wide wonder of the stormy sea threatened to burst through the trees and swallow her up, a girl lost her hat.”

With this sentence, The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic opens. Jennifer Trafton uses this sentence to grab hold of you and thrust you into a story with unforgettable adventure, unique characters, and chapter titles clever enough to be stories all on their own.mountmajestic

What sort of a name is Smudge? To ten-year-old Persimmony, a girl living a boring life on the Island at the Center of Everything, it is a name that could never be remembered as brave or heroic. Which is unfortunate, because those are the qualities Persimmony Smudge would like to possess.
[Read more…]

Profile photo of Christi Eaton
Christine Eaton is a student at Providence Christian College 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: One of the Few

Will you be one of the few? Jason Ladd, a former Marine fighter pilot, draws a powerful correlation between our Christian search for truth with his own experience in and out of uniform in his book, One of the Few. This semi-autobiography tells the story of Ladd’s journey to Christ as he grappled with the disparity between his preparedness for the role of soldier and the role of husband and father.oneofthefewreview

Throughout his novel, Ladd presents his own journey to Christ with uncommon vulnerability and constant clarity. If you love sugar-coated maxims and prosaic rainbows, then this book is not for you. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Sarah Spradlin
If you’ve ever emailed us at KP, you’ve probably “met” Sarah—a passionate storyteller with a huge heart that loves Jesus and everyone she meets. Sarah grew up in Georgia with her mom, dad, and little sister, Merry, where she attends the University of Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and Agriculture Communication. When she graduates, Sarah wants to help people all over the world succeed in the agriculture industry and tell the all-important story of the farmer. She joined the Kingdom Pen Team as Secretary in September 2013 and now serves as the Director of Community Happiness. Sarah has been homeschooled, private-schooled, and graduated from Madison County High School in May 2015. She attended Summit in July 2015. She’ll read pretty much anything (if she had to pick, though, her favorite author would be Frank Peretti) and has tried her hand at pretty much every kind of writing out there, though she likes writing fiction and poetry best. But because writing bios is a struggle, if you really want to get to know Sarah, shove some words in her general direction via the Forum, on one of the many social medias down below, or through the KP e-mail: kingdompenmag@gmail.com.

KP Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

“In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes. Sophie Hatter was the eldest of three sisters. She was not even the child of a poor woodcutter, which might have given her some chance of success!”howlsmovingcastlepinteres

This is the marvelous beginning of Diana Wynne Jones’ work, Howl’s Moving Castle. Drawing heavily on different fairy tale tropes and delightfully subverting them, Jones relates the story of Sophie, the eldest of three sisters who gets into trouble when she angers a powerful witch and gets turned into an old woman. With little else to do, Sophie ends up working as a maid for the wizard Howl, who lives in a moving, trans-dimensional castle. There she discovers that her curse can be removed—but only if she manages to learn how to free Howl’s fire elemental from his contract to Howl so that it can release her from the curse.

Sounds simple, right? [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
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.

KP Book Review: Shades of Milk and Honey

Jane is a woman living in Regency England who’s looking for marriage. The problem is that she’s twenty-eight, and few men are interested in a woman as old as she is. So Jane’s contented herself to living on a back burner—at least until the honor of her family is at stake and Jane needs to take action if she’s going to save it.milkandhoneypinterest

Feel a bit like a Jane Austen novel? It kind of is, because Mary Robinette Kowal consciously draws on several stereotypical Austen tropes.

The catch? In this world, magic exists. And not just any magic, but an illusion-based magic that characters use for artistry and disguises.

This one twist sets the premise for an intriguing and fanciful genre-melding book, as Kowal meshes some of the best elements of Austen-style romance with the best elements of fantasy. And not only does she do it, but she does it well. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
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.

KP Book Review: The Light of Eidon

By Karen Hancock

For eight years Abramm has trained and disciplined himself in order to devote his life to being a priest of Eidon. All thats left before beginning his service is to touch Eidons Sacred Flame and feel His presence.the_light_of_eidon

When Abramm touches the flame, instead of feeling the awe and devotion he expected, he feels dread and isolation. Even after everything hes done, he still isnt good enough to serve Eidon. And when he foolishly listens to his heretic brother, a string of unfortunate choices quickly leads to him being betrayed by a mentor and sold into slavery as a gladiator among infidels in the southern lands.

Where was Eidon when Abramm needed him? And why couldnt he ever be good enough for Him? [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
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.

KP Book Review: The Fiddler’s Gun

“Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you’ve finished it just to stay near to it.” –Markus Zusak.fiddlersgunpost

After reading The Fiddler’s Gun by A.S. Peterson, this quote became more than true for me. A.S Peterson, the brother of Andrew Peterson, the author of the Wingfeather Saga, writes an incredible story which begins at the brink of the American Revolution.

Here we meet Phinea (Fin) Button, a wild, red-headed, teenage orphan girl, who would rather spend her days romping, fighting, and exploring with the boys than be stuck inside sewing dresses and forced upon polite conversations among the girls. There are only two thoughts that run through Fin’s mind: one is to escape from the orphanage in Ebenezer and the cranky Sister Hilde; the other is her plans to marry her beloved Peter. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Christi Eaton
Christine Eaton is a student at Providence Christian College 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.