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This month I’m reviewing books for older guys. This is an often-neglected group when it comes to book reviews. The books I’m suggesting today all happen to be sequels to books I’ve loved and already reviewed. They are all recommended for older teens and college-age kids because they all deal with some very intense topics from underage drinking and partying, the implications of a one-night stand, to the traumas of war. The young men portrayed in these stories are all quite different—one has grown up in a military family and has pledged to serve his country, one deals with a devastating loss by nearly blowing his chance to get out of his horrible situation, and one lives in a challenging futuristic world and finds himself fighting for an innocent life. From the topics of depression, suicidal thoughts, dealing with a severe injury, and the sanctity of life, these are gritty stories that all reflect the importance of faith when facing the harsh realities of life. All three are powerful stories that will stay with you long after you finish the book.
Before we begin…
In case you are new to my blog, besides writing YA novels, I love reviewing them as well. Every month I post about 3 YA books that I’ve read each month in a new genre. I also send out quarterly posts marked UPDATES regarding news about my own work.
But for those of you who have kids, or grandkids, or you yourself like teen books (like me!), each month, I’ll introduce some of my favorite Christian and Catholic YA books.
I’ve decided to provide more reviews because there are a few things I’ve learned since I had my first book published:
1 – So many of the teen books published by the big publishing companies contain messages that don’t match the values of many families.
2 – There are a lot of fantastic, clean, faith-based books out there – books that are entertaining yet wholesome and reflect Christian values.
3 – These types of books can be difficult to find. So, I’d like to introduce you to a few new adventures.
The Captain by Ryan Shelton
I first encountered the main character, Vincent, in the book The Mentor, which I reviewed last month. Vincent is one of those characters that makes your heart ache, and you long to give him a hug. This poor kid has had a lot to deal with in his life: a neglectful mother, an abusive father, bullying from schoolmates, a vengeful coach, and hardly anyone who has ever believed in him. But baseball has always been his lifesaver, the one good thing in his life. In the first book, The Mentor, an elderly couple takes Vincent under their wing, improves his baseball skills, introduces him to faith, and gives him the encouragement he needs to succeed.
In The Captain, we find Vincent in his few months of college, which his tremendous baseball skills have made a possibility. Vincent starts fine, but when tragedy crashes down on him, his life begins to spiral out of control. This novel is quite impactful and is recommended for older teens due to the issues it delves into, such as depression, drugs, alcohol, and thoughts of suicide.
Experiencing Vincent’s life falling apart made this book hard to read at times. In fact, there were a few nights when this story kept me awake thinking about teens I know who have faced serious struggles. Sadly, too many high school and college students succumb to temptations that can lead them down a similar path. This book offers some wonderful messages such as how life-changing it can be for teens to have positive role models, or how one person can make a huge difference in someone’s life, and how even the darkest of times can be overcome. While the book has some tough moments, it is an amazing story about redemption and turning your life to God.
Breach! by Corinna Turner
Corinna Turner has created a unique new series that YA readers will devour. Her unSPARKed series can best be described as a faith-based Jurassic Park.
Breach! is actually a prequel to the stories in this series, Drive!, A Truly Rapturous Welcome, Panic, and Farm Girls Die in Cages. All these books are short segments of a large adventure. I find this unique format quite interesting.
In Breach! we meet the dinosaur hunter duo of Zechariah and Isaiah. These brothers have a dark and troubling past that we learn about throughout the book. But what drives this story is a new complication in their lives—the unexpected result from a night of partying. What is so unique about this book is that Turner combines several genres that you don’t expect to find together. Breach! is an adventurous, suspenseful, dystopian fantasy, with a pro-life message. These aspects blend together perfectly to create a fascinating, fun, and life-affirming book.
Below Northern Lights by Ashlee Cowles
One of the best YA novels I read last year was Beneath Wandering Stars. I absolutely loved the adventurous tale of a young Army brat who was walking the Camino do Santiago trail for her injured brother.
I couldn’t get enough of that amazing story, so soon after finishing the book, I began reading Below Northern Lights. The author lists this as a companion story instead of a sequel because it is on the shorter side. There might not be many pages in this story, but it is jammed pack with another amazing journey of growth, finding your place in the world, and the courage to tackle the obstacles of life. The only bad part was that this story is short, and I read it way too fast.
The main character in this book is Lucas Santiago. He is a wounded warrior who has lost his purpose and zest for life. His sister convinces him to take a journey to Scotland to search for his best friend who has gone missing. As with the first novel in this duo by Cowles, the characters are incredible, and the insights are powerful and compelling.
All these books can be found on Amazon. I’ve set links – just click on the highlighted titles. For those who don’t use Amazon you can also check Barnes and Noble online or www.indiebound.org where you can search for books and the local bookstores that might carry them or order them directly from the website. You can also ask your local bookstore or library to order the books for you.
Next month I’ll be reviewing three more Christian/Catholic teen novels. But if you’d like more reviews before then you can always check out my recommendation section on my website: YA Recommendations.
If you’ve come across this post on Facebook and would like to get my monthly reviews sent directly to your inbox, you can sign up on my website – www.LesleaWahl.com.
Until next month – Happy Reading!