The Daniel Dilemma by Rand Hummel
The Daniel Dilemma: Real Courage for Real Life is a Christian teenagers’ survival guide for not getting eaten by lions in a world that rejects God and expects them to reject Him too. From this study, teens can find the courage to overcome the daily peer pressure that threatens to pull them away from their faith. Rand Hummel uses his more than twenty years of Christian camp experience to formulate fourteen Laws of Courageous Leadership from the book of Daniel and apply them to the real-life situations young people face today. (From the publisher)
This study of the book of Daniel takes the reader through this book as a survival guide to be used to navigate the world today. Mr. Hummel does a great job by comparing what Daniel and his friends went through to a variety of situations that teens today face each day. This makes this study and the book of Daniel relatable to the teen reader. The majority of the chapters address a single subject that Mr. Hummel says is a law such as humility, prayer, rejection, etc. This study fits a niche in the publishing world. There are not many bible studies that are focused on one book of the bible that is targeted to teens. This is a great start to introduce teens to a single book of the bible study. Each chapter of the Daniel Dilemma could be taken as a day’s study. The one criticism was that the author uses the King James version of the bible. For your average teen, this version of the bible is very hard to read and apprehend. Give this book to a teen who is desiring to get deeper in their walk and wanting to get deeper in the Word. Just have either a bible app or another bible version handy so the teen can get a better understanding of the verses Mr. Hummel covered.
Note: I was given an electronic copy via Net Galley and the publisher, BJ Press for an honest review.
This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend, Grant; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous-more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has personal reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she investigates with Stone-the aging prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot-she realizes that nothing about the case-or the boys-is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all-and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line including her own.
The first line of this book just grabs the reader…”A ten point buck and a dead body make the same sound when they hit the forrest floor.” It sets the scene that this is a murder mystery. In alternating chapters told from Kate and one of the River Point boys. This is a fast, twisting story that keeps the reader wondering what really happened. Kate is a likable character from the beginning but towards the end some of the things she does towards the end of the book are frustrating. Through the author’s writing the reader begins to empathize with Logan and hopes that the killer is not him. Through the River Point boy’s view, the reader midway through begins to understand that this person is the killer but the author leaves enough clues to suggest who it might be while leaving enough doubt that the reader continues to quickly turn page after page. A satisfying ending but once the reader finishes the book, the plot seems familiar. Even with the feeling of familiar plot, give this to a teen that loves mysteries that keep you guessing with a fresh scenery from most YA reads.
Note: I was given an electronic copy via Net Galley and the publisher, Disney- Hyperion for an honest review.
Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger
A weekend retreat in the woods and an innocent game of three truths and a lie go horribly wrong in this high-octane psychological thriller filled with romantic suspense by a Lambda Award–winning author.
Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun.
Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell…to be the person he really, really wants to be.
Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect.
Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years…long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand.
Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy…even with the secrets up his sleeve.
One of these truths is a lie…and not everyone will live to find out which one it is.
This read is a quick read and has a unexpected ending. The mystery is not gory and is more suspenseful while reading it. Mr. Hartinger writes the plot so the reader is constantly trying to figure out what is going to happen next. The characters, however, are not written that the reader cares too much about them. The premise that parents would allow two teen couples to spend the weekend in a remote cabin by themselves is somewhat unrealistic. The plot is pretty predictable as the mystery begins to unfold. Although as previously written, has a surprised ending. It is more of a plot driven than character driven story. If you have a teen that likes unexpected endings but doesn’t care if they remember the story too far in the future, give it to them.
Note: I was given an electronic copy via Net Galley and the publisher, Simon And Shulster Children’s Publishing for an honest review.
How to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozzo
Nikki Baylor has been forced to do community service in a rehabilitation center and meets rugby playing Pax. Pax made some very bad decisions and ended up in a wheel chair while Nikki also made a bad decision. A romance commences and each character learns a little about themselves.
Ms. Cozzo writes in such a way that after having read the synopsis of the book, you believe that you are going to hate the character Nikki. For this reader, the exact opposite happened. As the story unfolds, the reader begins to see why Nikki is doing community service. Her bad decision lead to a cyber bullying incident against a fellow student which resulted in a series of uncomfortable consequences in her life. Her parents do not believe her story. She says that while the cyber bullying event took place on her social media account, she did not actual write them herself, instead one of her fellow popular girlfriends did. The consequence for her lack of action and inability to stand up against the bullying, caused her to be expelled from her school and having to perform community service while her friends only had to go to a counselor. Readers will be drawn into her story and at times be frustrated with the character while at other times be angry with her.
The second character in this romance, is Pax who made a bad decision to drag race causing an accident which ended himself up in a wheel chair. Again as the story unfolds, the reader is drawn into the character’s life and feelings as he lives with the consequences of his bad decisions. The story reads at a fast pace and then a slow pace. The choppy pace does lend itself to self reflect on how the reader would react to making poor decisions.
The romance between Nikki and Pax is sweet and gentle. Readers are given a glimpse through the couple’s journey of how a physical impairment can affect both parties in a relationship.This glimpse and the author’s treatment of their relationship, builds an empathy for those in a wheel chair and the perspective of life they deal with daily.
Several teen readers can identify with making a poor decision in their life that ended up in uncomfortable if not life changing consequences. This would be a great book discussion book to look at the many themes that are in the book…consequences for our actions or lack of actions, life in a wheel chair, parent relationships etc. Recommended for teens that like realistic fiction that can make you think while being a lighter read.
Note: I was given an electronic copy via Net Galley and the publisher, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for an honest review.
Chuckaboo by Christopher Fitzgerald
Sixteen year-old Don Gallagher lives in Savannah, Georgia with his mom and her “friend” nicknamed skin-head. His mom’s behavior has changed drastically since skin-head has moved in with them Don suspects that they both are doing drugs. He and his mom have argued many times about her “friend”‘s presence so he has decided to hit the trail, the Appalachian trail. This novel depicts life on the run and the long distance hiking on the Appalachian trail, the characters and hardships of being a Thru hiker.
The story instantly draws the reader into how Don Gallagher’s trip starts and how Chuckaboo is birthed. The characters are varied and the setting is described so that the reader can picture themselves on the trail with Don/Chuckaboo. The author does a great job moving the story forward through the trail and the relationships formed on the trail. Many of the obstacles that Don/Chuckaboo have to overcome are realistic and told in such a way that if the reader has ever been on the trail, known someone or even visited the Great Smoky Mountains and diverged off the beaten path can identify with the struggles and scenery. Give this to a teen that loves coming of age stories or who loved Gary Paulson’s hatchet as a younger teen.
Note: I was given an electronic copy via Net Galley and the publisher, Chris Fitzgerald for an honest review.
A Fistful of God by Theresa M. Travis
Aidyn Pierce does not drink, she has seen first-hand what drinking can do a person. Although she still suffers with alcoholism. She had that perfect family until her dad died and then everything changed. Her mom suffering through grief turns to alcohol. Aidyn has heard it all before that her mom will change, quit drinking, etc. all of these would allow Aidyn to turn back from having to become the adult to being the teen she should be instead. Aidyn’s mom asks her to go to church and that’s when she sees that she might not be alone in this situation. Will Aidyn’s mom quit drinking? Will the church youth group her mom suggests she attend make things easier?
This story reveals a side of life for many teens either in their own life or one of their friend’s life. Ms. Travis writes each character in such a way that many teens will identify with one or more of the characters. This novel is well written and very thought provoking. Even if the reader has not experienced alcoholism in their life, they can learn that sometimes just being a friend and reaching out to another can change a person’s life or at the very least, diminish the loneliness. Give this to a teen who likes realistic fiction. This novel would be good for a book discussion group.
The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry
When Olivia’s mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia’s father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there’s a killer still at large. It’s up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?–From Publisher
Olivia is an emancipated teen who has spent many years in foster care. She comes back to her hometown as a stranger trying to figure out who killed her mom and questions about her dad. Ms. Henry always writes a great suspense mystery and keeps the reader guessing until the very end. This title does not disappoint in this regard. This particular title did seem a little unrealistic in how quickly she found a job, home and acceptance from the town people, including her relatives. Having said this, she does befriend (or reacquaint) herself with an old neighbor boy who seems to lead some credibility to her acceptance around time. This reader was totally shocked on who was the killer. Teens looking for a quick and fast-paced mystery will enjoy this offering from April Henry. For readers who like to analyze their readings, they maybe a disappointed in this title.
Note: I received an electronic version of this title through Net Galley and the publisher, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.