Thursday, December 3, 2009

Suggested (Gift?) Books for Teens, 2009 Releases, Part 2

So many books, so little space! If you read my previous post, this is the second part of a very incomplete list of good reads for teens featuring 2009 releases. Yesterday I featured speculative fiction because I know guys are more likely to read those than a lot of other books. Today's list has some other books that guys would enjoy, but the chic lit selections are mostly read by girls. I am really trying to emphasize just 2009 releases, although there may be one or two that I just discovered and reviewed this year. There are tons more good books that are a couple of years old. Unfortunately, the bookstores don't carry them all for one reason or another. If I miss some of your favorites (or your teen's favorites), please feel free to add a comment.

As with the first list, I will put links to the author's website (with the author's name) and links to places to buy the books online (with titles). I try to choose the best prices. Many titles may be available in bookstores such as Borders, at times in larger Christian bookstores; online many are available through,, and I think all of them are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I am sorry to say I don't know good connections for Canada and other countries. All of my orders online have been delivered quickly. By the way, these books are in no particular order as far as my favorites or the date released.

Always Watching and Last Breath by Amber and Brandilynn Collins. ( Only 11.99 for both at Books1 & 2 in the Rayne Series. Excerpt on my blog here. This mother-daughter team has coined the term Seatbelt Suspense™ for their young adult suspense.

#1-- The daughter of a rock star, 16-year-old Shaley O'Connor has everything---until she discovers her friend's body backstage. Is Tom Hutchens's death connected to her? Soon, frightening messages appear and paparazzi begin to stalk her. Can Shaley find Tom's killer before he strikes again? Where's God when she needs him? Ages 13 to 16.
#2--With his last breath a dying man whispered four stunning words into Shaley O’Connor’s ear. Shaley is reeling after two murders on the Rayne concert tour. But she has no time to rest. If the dying man’s claim is right, the danger is far from over. Shaley’s quest for the truth leads to the mysterious and wrenching past of her mother and father. Could what happened to them so many years ago threaten Shaley’s life now?

Beyond the Smoke
, Terry W. Burns. A western recommended for teens. I haven't read it, but I'm familiar enough with Terry Burns that I feel confident in recommending it. He does a great job with westerns and has a rock-solid faith in Jesus. If the teen has read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen or The Sign of the Beaver, it has that same youth-surviving-alone theme. Popular with the kids.

When Bryan Wheeler's parents are killed by Comanche raiders, he wonders how he will survive without them. With a few supplies, two guns, and his mother's Bible, he sets out to create a new life for himself in the western wilderness. During his travels he meets new friends, including an eccentric trader, a Texas ranger, and an orphan girl. But enemies lurk in the West, too, forcing Bryan to make difficult choices to survive.

To Save a Life, Jim and Rachel Britts (didn't find actual website). You can read excerpt at sales site. It has been awarded the Silver Medal in the 2009 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards in the category of Young Adult Fiction – Mature Issues. I am looking forward to reading the book and seeing the movie when it comes out.

Based on the movie (in theaters January 22, 2010), the novel is a story about the real-life challenges of teens and their choices. For anyone who has struggled with regret, loneliness or pain, it is a story of hope. For all of us, To Save A Life is a story about living a life of significance. Through Jake's journey, readers are challenged to answer the question: what's your life going to be about? Jake and Roger grew up as best friends. But in high school, Jake becomes a star athlete who has it all: a college scholarship and the perfect girl, an ideal life that comes at the exclusion of his childhood friend. Meanwhile, Roger no longer fits in anywhere and becomes tired of always being pushed aside. He makes a tragic move that spins Jake's world out of control. As Jake searches for answers, he begins a journey that will change his life forever. More resources at

June Bug by Chris Fabry (mid grade). June Bug is an updated version of Les Miserables, apparently loosely based on the great classic story of great sacrifice. For younger teens, even upper elementary, and maybe reluctant readers. Excerpt here.

It all begins in a nondescript Wal-Mart parking lot where nine-year-old June Bug sees an artist's rendition of herself on a missing child poster in the store where they've parked their broken-down RV trailer. With questions galore, June Bug starts pestering her dad about their RV vagabond life and where they're headed next. Johnson, little June Bug's father, is obliged to face his past in short order as a series of unexpected media events force his hand and reroute his life. Afraid and emotionally battered, Johnson returns to the scene of the crime and discovers what he thought was lost forever. Fabry's retelling of the world-renowned Victor Hugo tale is a stunning success, and readers will find themselves responding with enthusiastic inner applause.

Once Was Lost, Sara Zarr. A really emotionally stirring book from Sara Zarr who has two quite popular titles already out. She is not known particularly as a Christian author, but this book hits home for many. I have a review pending that will appear on my blog later this week. Hopefully, I will also have an interview with Sara Zarr next week. Although the main character is the daughter of a pastor, I know from comments by guys that the audience for the book is quite broad. I cried when I read it: it struck a nerve from my own past.

Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things. As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reason to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already-worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel. In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed---about God, about your family, about yourself---is transformed.

I Know Why the Angels Dance, Bryan Davis. (There's an excerpt on Bryan Davis' site) This one is actually a contemporary adult book, but suitable for teens. Most of Davis' work has been targeting teens; besides, it's quite seasonally appropriate.

When atheist psychology professor Phil Grayson loses his only child to disease, he's furious at John Hanson's attempt to console him based on his daughter's deathbed conversion to Christ. While Phil seems blind to the truth, John struggles to grasp the concept of "weeping with those who weep." Can another remarkable child bring them together?

If Only You Knew by Canadian author Mags Storey. My review is here. This is properly young adult, as in 20-year-olds, but quite appropriate for teens. Especially older teens. While it is a kind of love story, there's a lot more to it, lots of intrigue and danger that make it a book guys would like as well.

"Perhaps I should have read something into the fact that when I first laid eyes on Sam some girl was yelling at him, and when I first met Kevin he nearly killed me." Jo's summer is off to a good start when she meets Kevin, an amazingly attractive guy, and Sam, her soon- to-be best friend, on the same day. Now all she needs is a summer job, college or career plans, life goals... She'd also like to know why no one talks about Nate's horrible accident. Last summer, she saw someone hit Nate with a sports car outside a church and leave him to die. If she hadn't called 911, he might have done just that. Soon after she and Sam look into the incident, a couple of creepy guys start stalking her and someone threatens her life. In the midst of this craziness, Jo finds herself turning to an intriguing group of friends who believe in the God she thinks has forgotten her. With the help of her friends and a renewed trust in God, Jo tries to unravel the mystery and piece together her life.

{The rest of the list mainly consists of "girlie" books. Sorry, guys.}

New York Debut & Lost in Las Vegas (Carter House series), Melody Carlson. Melody Carlson is a perennial favorite with teen girls and has probably released more titles this year than the three I have. In fact, it would be a good idea to check her website to see all the latest titles.

New York Debut--Mix six teenage girls and one ‘60s fashion icon (retired, of course) in an old Victorian-era boarding home. Add boys and dating, a little high-school angst, and throw in a Kate Spade bag or two . . . and you’ve got The Carter House Girls, Melody Carlson’s new chick lit series for young adults! The New Year promises to be lively for the Carter House girls. No sooner does the calendar page turn and the girls are forced to confront a whole load of difficulties. There is constant pressure from Mrs. Carter as the household prepares to participate in the high stakes Spring Fashion Week in New York City. Competition flares from all directions as the girls vie for top billing, premium outfits, and attention from favorite guys. Stresses mount and some personal challenges grow into serious problems. Will the girls survive the big city experience and the even bigger trials that come along with it?

Las Vegas--In a whirlwind, DJ accepts “lonely” Taylor’s invitation to join her mom’s tour in Las Vegas during Christmas break. DJ soon discovers that the unsupervised Taylor is focused on one thing only—partying with a capital “P.” She’s invited Eliza, too, and DJ is quickly overwhelmed by the behavior of the wild duo. Desperate, she calls on Casey for help and prays for a miracle to help Taylor before she self-destructs.

It's a Green Thing: Diary of a Teenage Girl, Melody Carlson. One in a series of teen diaries. I wonder if Melody Carson ever sleeps? It looks like all she ever does is write!

For the first time that she can remember, Maya Stark is beginning to feel like a "normal" teenager. Even with her mother in jail for drug possession and her pop-star father away on his comeback tour, Maya's new life with her uncle Allen and cousin Kim is coming together. Summer vacation's just beginning, and with a new job, a new boyfriend, and a new car (hybrid, of course), things are finally starting to look up.
But that doesn't mean life is about to get any easier. Maya's still devoted to living Green, and her uncle offers her a Green column in his newspaper. With the opportunity to make a difference in the town's attitude toward the environment, Maya wonders how this fits with her new-found commitment to Christ. And if she can really consider herself a Christian when her feelings toward a fellow youth group member are anything but loving

So Not Happening (The Charmed Life), Jenny B. Jones. Chic lit. with a serious subject: children of divorce and the traumatic changes it can bring. As with other chic lit. though, a healthy dose of humor.

Isabella Kirkwood had it all: popularity at a prestigious private school in Manhattan, the latest fashions, and a life of privilege and luxury.
Then her father, a plastic surgeon to the stars, decided to trade her mother in for a newer model.
When her mother starts over with her new husband, Bella is forced to pack up and leave all she knows to live with her new family in Oklahoma. Before her mother can even say “I do,” Bella’s life becomes a major “don’t.”
Can Bella survive her crazy new family? Will the school survive Bella? How can a girl go on when her charmed life is gone and God gives her the total smackdown?

It's Not About Him, Michelle Sutton. The second book by "the edgy inspirational author" follows Suzie and Jeff, two characters first introduced in the first book It's Not About Me. Although the characters are carry-overs, this book can stand alone.

When Susie discovers she is pregnant, she has no idea who the father is. She considers having an abortion, but decides to place her baby for adoption instead. Following through ends up being more wrenching than she'd imagined, but she's determined to do the right thing for her baby.

Ruby Unscripted, Cindy Martinusen. Make that Cindy Martinusen-Coloma. Maybe she got married recently? Anyway, she even got an blurb from Melody Carlson for her book.

Small-town girl Ruby Madden has moved to Marin County, California; home of high-dollar homes and green living. The girls wear shoes that cost more than her entire paycheck at the Underground Coffeehouse & Theater, and the students are well-traveled and full of life experiences that Ruby can only dream of. All the stresses of adjusting to her new life have put a strain on her ability to trust God. Yet when mysterious and eye-catching Kaden invites Ruby to join the school's film group, the puzzle pieces start to fit. Her love of art finds perfect expression and the film friends seem to really get her. When a major Hollywood director hosts an amateur film contest, Ruby and her friends are stoked. But Ruby's old life is tugging her backward and her frantic balancing act throws her new life totally off track. To top things off, Ruby makes a mistake that could cost her the chance of a lifetime. Life would be so much easier if Ruby just had a script to follow with a happy ending guaranteed. But what's the fun in that?

Truth or Dare and All That Glitters, Nicole O'Dell (young teen and tween; interactive).

Scenarios Series Description: Decisions, decisions! How is a girl supposed to choose? Lessons of right and wrong are put to the test in the Scenarios series, where you can test your decision-making abilities in an eye-opening, but safe, way. Each book follows a character up to the point where she has to make an important, life-changing decision—then it’s your turn to choose. Will your choices lead to a happy ending?

Truth or Dare--Lindsay Martin is faced with a tough choice: Does she give in to peer pressure and make her friends happy or does she do what she knows is right—even if it means losing her friends forever? Tween readers make the choice in this interactive story and see how the consequences change Lindsay’s life. Includes a contract and prayer to remind the reader of the importance of making godly decisions.

All That Glitters--Drew Daniels finally has what she thought she wanted—popularity and a cute boyfriend. But now she’s faced with choosing between pleasing her boyfriend and doing what’s right. Tween readers make the choice in this interactive story and see how the consequences change Drew’s life. Includes a contract and prayer to remind the reader of the importance of making godly decisions.

All About Us series (It's All About Us, The Fruit of My Lipstick, Be Strong and Curvaceous, Who Made You a Princess and Tidings of Great Boys) by Shelly Adina. Talk about an author with a busy year! I read the first three books and found them to be quick-witted, fun stories. Very, very girlie yet very Christian. I had excerpts from the first two with a short review here. All the stories deal with girlfriends attending Spencer Academy, a Christian school, but each book can stand alone as each focuses on a different girl.

It's All About Us--Lissa Mansfield is used to being in the "in" crowd--but being accepted by the popular girls at posh Spencer Academy boarding school in San Francisco is a lot harder than she thought. And then there's her New-York-loudmouth roommate, Gillian Chang, who's not just happy to be a Christian herself--she's determined to out Lissa, too. If Lissa can just keep her faith under wraps long enough to hook Callum McCloud, the hottest guy in school, she'll be golden. But when Callum pressures her to go all the way with him, Lissa has to decide how far is too far. How can she see that line when he's so gorgeous and popular and God seems so far away? Between that and shopping for a knockout dress and booking the hottest celeb for the Benefactor's Day Ball . . . who knew finding a place at Spencer Academy would be so complicated?

The Fruit of my Lipstick--New Yorker Gillian Chang starts her second term at posh Spencer Academy boarding school in San Francisco prepared to focus on her studies, her faith, and her friends. She plays a dozen musical instruments and can recite the periodic table of the elements backward. She's totally prepared for everything--except love! She's falling hard for Lucas Hayes, who isn't even a senior yet and is already aiming at a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford. The problem is, she never seems to be able to measure up and be the girlfriend he wants. He's under a lot of pressure from his parents to achieve--maybe that's why he's short-tempered sometimes. But even a thick-skinned girl like Gillian can only take so much. With her heart on the line, Gillian conceals more and more from her friends. So when she's accused of selling exam answer sheets, even her girlfriends, Lissa Mansfield and Carly Aragon, wonder if it can be true. Can Gillian hang onto her integrity--and her faith--when she loses her heart to Lucas?

Be Strong and Curvaceous--After spending spring break in Mexico with her grandparents, Carly Aragon can't wait to get back to school at Spencer Academy in San Francisco. With Lissa Mansfield and Gillian Chang by her side, she's ready for anything ... except a new roommate. Lady Lindsay MacPhail, flamboyant daughter of the Earl of Strathcairn, quickly becomes Carly's worst nightmare. "Mac" not only swoops in and steals Carly's privacy, she's also stealing Brett Loyola--Carly's biggest crush! But when Mac starts receiving strange, threatening e-mails, she and Carly must come together to figure out who's behind them and why. In the end, the fate of one girl will lie in the other's hands. Will the two learn to trust one another and trust God?

Who Made You a Princess?--Shani Hanna always thought her parents sent her to Spencer Academy to groom her for a career in her dad's company. Little did she know it was to advance her family's interests in a much more personal way! Shani returns to Spencer Academy after an amazing summer with her friends and a new hottie: Danyel Johnstone. The two are just starting to generate some heat when it's time to hit the books again. But a new addition to the student body has all the girls buzzing. Prince Rashid al Amir is doing an exchange term at Spencer Academy—and he’s set his sights on Shani. It turns out that Shani's family and the prince's go back for generations. In each generation, members of the two families have expanded their business interests through an archaic and inescapable tradition. Will Shani put aside her feelings for Danyel to become a princess? Or will her headstrong ways put her feelings, her future—and her faith—at risk?

Tidings of Great Boys--Finals week is approaching, and Mac is still undecided on where to spend the holidays. Normally she’d go home to Scotland, but spending two weeks alone in the castle with her dad isn’t as appealing as it used to be. So she invites Carly, Lissa, Gillian, and Shani to join her for the holidays! Mac is determined to make this the best Christmas ever. She even decides to organize the traditional Hogmanay dance for New Year’s Eve. If she can get her mother involved, maybe her parents will finally get back together. But when Mac and the girls arrive in Scotland, they are faced with bad news: The castle is falling apart and Mac’s parents are struggling financially. Not only that, but Shani is in big trouble with Prince Rashid’s royal family. Can the girls find a way to celebrate the holidays, get Mac’s parents back together, save the castle, and rescue Shani ... and will Mac believe it's all part of God's plan? There’s only one way to find out!

Whew! Well, I hope you found something in these thirty-odd books that will appeal to the teenagers in your life--or even yourself. Happy reading!


Cory Aidenman said...

For most people divorce is a very bothersome and painful episode in their life and moving past it can be highly challenging. Ofttimes someone going through a divorce will experience sadness and exacerbation as a consequence of their failed union.

cathikin said...

True. I'm not sure how that fits in here, though.