5 Fantasy Authors You Should Be Reading

I’ll admit it: I love reading fantasy stories. There’s just something about the adventure, excitement, quests, monsters, and worlds that are so fascinating and fun to read. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I grew up reading L. Frank Baum’s Oz books from the early 1900’s. Maybe it’s the 1980’s fantasy movies like The Neverending Story and Return to Oz I grew up watching. Either way, fantasy stories are undeniably a good time.

So here are five of my favorite Christian fantasy authors (in no particular order!) that you should be reading:

1. Wayne Thomas Batson

Mr. Batson has written a lot of novels, from epic high fantasy stories like his The Door Within trilogy, to high seas piratical adventures in The Isle Chronicles books, you can’t go wrong with a Batson novel. If you’re looking for rollicking good adventures, I recommend starting with Isle of Swords or Curse of the Spider King. Currently, Batson blogs regularly at Enter the Door Within.

2. Brock Eastman

Although The Quest for Truth series is technically a space opera, there is plenty of sci-fi/fantasy action to keep readers entertained with any of Brock Eastman’s books. Along with his four-part space series, Eastman is also the author of Howlsage, a super fascinating take on spiritual warfare. I couldn’t stop reading Howlsage once I had picked it up. It takes the idea of what if all these different monsters we read about in popular mythology are actually demonic? And what if a group of people were tasked with fighting those spiritual forces of wickedness? He’s also working on a series with author Travis Thrasher (one of my all-time favorite authors), so how can you go wrong?

Brock is very active on social media, and can be found on Facebook.

3. P.W. Catanese

If you’re looking for an author who’s plot twists pull no punches, then look no further than P.W. Catanese. I first read his book Happenstance Found, book one in The Books of Umber series, and I have not gasped out loud so many times in my life. There is an incredibly shocking twist near the end that left me floored and clamoring for the next two books in the trilogy. His other books also tie in loosely to the world of Umber, and I recommend his Further Tales Adventures highly.

Find out more about Mr. Catanese on Facebook.

4. Brandon Mull

One of my favorite authors, Brandon Mull is the author of multiple amazing series, including Fablehaven, Beyonders, and Five Kingdoms. Although some of his more recent books have become slightly formulaic, his earlier books are sure to please with fast-moving narratives, exciting adventures, and oftentimes some of the most aggravating situations for characters in all of fiction. So many times I have sat reading a Mull novel and asked myself, “How are these characters ever going to escape this?” And Brandon never disappoints when he does answer that question.

Mull hangs out on the Internet Webs here.

5. E.J. Patten

Okay. This last author on the list is also one of my favorites, but also is one of the most aggravating. Not because his books aren’t good. Because his books are amazing. Return to Exile still remains one of my most memorable reading journeys ever. It’s because there are not enough books from Mr. Patten! You can’t do wrong though to check out this incredible author and the crazy imagination he has. Literally. His imagination is awesomely crazy. Some of the things he has put into his novels boggled my mind with their inventiveness and sheer creativity. I know I am eagerly waiting for the day when book three releases. Did I also mention that he’s hilarious?

E.J. Patten blogs away at Patten Pending.

5 Tips for Better Bedtime Storytelling

In 2013, School Library Journal asked families: How many parents read bedtime stories to their kids? According to the poll, about “two-thirds of parents don’t read to their kids every night” (Bayliss, 2013).

Bedtime stories were a huge part of my elementary years. I loved it when my parents would come and read me a story before I drifted off to sleep. Those times not only sparked my imagination, but gave me valuable face time with my parents.

The heart behind Reckless was to give parents, grandparents, guardians, and foster parents the opportunity to connect with their kids through a fun adventure, Bible stories, challenging devotionals on kid level, and discussion questions that can be used throughout the day to continue the conversation.

But maybe you’re thinking: I’m not a very good bedtime storyteller. Well, here are 5 tips on how to be a better bedtime storyteller.

1. Read the story or chapter ahead of time.

Before you take that picture book, chapter book, or story into your child’s bedroom, read it ahead of time. It sounds so simple, but if you know the general direction of where the story is heading, it will help you heaps in telling the story more fluidly. If there are words that you don’t recognize or names you don’t know how to pronounce, a quick Google search for a definition or pronunciation will have you reading more like a pro.

2. Use voices for different characters.

Everyone can make a silly voice or two. Or maybe you can bust out a fun accent for a central character in the story. If you can, mix it up for every character in the story. Speak in a squeaky voice for a mouse or a deep voice for a moose. Give a British accent to the Grandpa, or a southern one to that quirky talking bird.

If you are totally stuck and think: “I just can’t do any voices!” then take a minute to search for Amy Walker on YouTube. She has hordes of videos that will teach you how to speak in an accent in seven minutes or less!

3. Speed up — slightly! — at the exciting parts.

Since you already read the story ahead of time (right, right?), you’ll know when an exciting part might be coming in the story. Speed up your reading just a pinch — not too much, or your kids won’t understand what you’re saying! Putting a little extra speed to an adventurous moment will make a story come alive for your kids.

4. Let your kids interact with the story.

Don’t just close the last page, say “Good Night!”, and rush out the door. Take a couple minutes to ask your child some questions about the story: What was their favorite part? Who was their favorite character? What did the characters learn in the story? If your child was telling the story, what would have happened at the end?

Talking about the story together will help your child process what they’ve heard and help them to relate the story to their own life.

5. Keep reading stories to your children — even when they’re “too old.”

Even if your kids are getting into their upper years of Grade School, take time to continue reading stories together as a family. Even older children love a good story — it’s all about which ones you choose. Ask your kids what book they would like to read together every night and let them be the ones to pick it out at the bookstore or library.

Reading to your child even as they get older will be something they soon won’t forget. It might just spur their love of reading and yours as well.

If you’re looking for a fun book to read to your kids, check out Reckless on Amazon.com!



BOOK REVIEW: Isle of Stars by Wayne Thomas Batson

When I first heard Wayne Thomas Batson would be returning to the world of pirates, I was beside myself with excitement. Isle of Swords and Isle of Fire were two of my favorites when they first came out back in 2007 and 2008, respectively. So to hear that another installment in what was truly an incredible series of books would be arriving soon was enough to get me itching to return to a world of pirates, swordplay, and adventure. And Batson definitely does not disappoint here.

To begin with, Isle of Stars is a shorter story than the first two books in what is now known as The Isle Chronicles. The story is smaller is scope than the previous two, and the characterization is much more subdued than before. Also, Batson weaves in characters from his Dreamtreaders series, and readers unfamiliar with those books may be lost at the beginning of the book. Also, the plot device to bring in those characters from Dreamtreaders is a little forced, which may turn some readers off.

The story this time circles around Cat and Anne, who are going to be getting married soon — hopefully by Christmas, but no guarantees what with pirates about — when word arrives that the nefarious pirate, Captain Tobias Dredd has surfaced and is looking for the legendary Isle of Stars, an island that has never been desecrated by human sin. When Dredd kidnaps young Hopper, it is up to the crew of Captain Declain Ross’ ship to rescue him and stop Dredd from reaching the starlit isle before it’s too late.

Isle of Stars moves very quickly, and returns the reader to the world of the Batson’s pirates in a way that left me wanting much, much more. I was aching by the last page for another full novel set in this world, and time will tell if Batson plans to return here later. There is some violence here as well that does come across a bit shocking when it arrives, but it fits the world created here.The climax of the book does come rather quickly as well, and I had to stop and take stock of where things were at a couple of times to make sure I was still following the storyline.

All said, Isle of Stars is a very welcome addition to The Isle Chronicles, and I deeply hope Batson continues to put out more of these kinds of adventure stories. Here’s to hoping.

You can purchase this book on Amazon.com.