KP Book Review: The Green Ember by S. D. Smith

In S. D. Smith’s The Green Ember series, rabbits walk on two feet, wear clothes, and carry swords, and each page urges you to keep reading. The main characters, Picket and Heather, are two young rabbit siblings whose father once told them legends of King Jupiter, but those are just stories. Or are they? Through unfortunate circumstances, Picket and Heather are thrust into a cruel world of predators, betrayal, and the rise and fall of kingdoms.The_Green_Ember

Action fills the plot and adventure is around every turn of the page.

I would define Smith’s writing style as simple, but not in a negative way, for it is a good kind of simple. C. S. Lewis once said, “Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.” Smith’s writing serves as an example of this quote. [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: 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…]

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 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: 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: Creating Character Arcs

Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

According to Writer’s Digest, K.M. Weiland runs one of the top one hundred writing sites, and she spends a lot of time on her blog giving advice to writers. Since I’ve followed her blog and read her books for several years now, I had high expectations for her latest book on fiction writing.creating_character_arcs

But with this book, Weiland matched and even surpassed my expectations.

In Creating Character Arcs, Weiland delves into the art of crafting character arcs and structuring a story around the protagonist’s character arc in a way that leads to deep themes. As Weiland points out, one of the key benefits of a strong character arc is how it unifies the story. Plot and character are too often viewed as opposing forces. [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 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: 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.