Tag Archives: YA fiction

Some Great — and Cheap! — Summer Reads

I love a great book and I love a great deal, so when I find specials that combine those two things I’m especially happy. Here are two fabulous YA eBook deals that will give you a great start on fun summer reading material.

Turning Point SetDeal #1 — Turning Point, a set of 7 — yes, I said 7! — full-length eBooks for only 99 cents! The titles include:

By Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson

Whisper if You Have To, by Staci Stallings

It’s Complicated, by Laura L. Smith

Failstate, by John W. Otte

The Wishing Pearl, by Nicole O’Dell

Mardan’s Mark, by Kathrese McKee

Glass Girl, by Laura Anderson Kurk

The genres run from fantasy to contemporary, with both male and female points of view. The theme that ties them together is that they each focus on a turning point in the main characters’ lives. Click on the links to the authors’ websites to learn more about the books, or you can read full descriptions and buy the set at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Remember — the set is only in digital format. And even if you’ve read one of them (like I have) or aren’t sure about whether you’d like one, it’s 99 cents for 7 full-length novels! That’s a crazy summertime deal that you don’t want to miss. And, you might find a new author — or genre — that you really like!

In BetweenDeal #2 is … the Kindle version of In Between by Jenny B. Jones is FREE for a limited time! I can honestly say that she’s one of my favorite YA authors and that I loved this series (In Between is the first in her Katie Parker Production series). If you’ve never read any of her books, this is a great place to start.

Both these deals will only be available for a limited time and I’m not sure when they’ll end. So — start clicking those eBook links and get your summer reading stash set!

Your turn — If you buy either of these and like them, come back and let me know! I’d love to hear what you have to say.

14 for 2014

Every January, I think about how fun it would be to keep a list of all the books I read that year. That’s as far as it usually gets – an idea that gets lost in the shuffle of life – but maybe this will be the year I actually do it!


To kick things off, I thought I’d share some books I’m looking forward to diving into this year. 14 books, to be exact – which you probably figured out since this post is titled “14 for 2014.” Some of these books will be new to me even though they’re not necessarily new titles. Others are on my waiting list because they won’t be released until later in 2014. And a few will be re-reads of books I enjoyed years ago.

Of course, I’ll read some nonfiction along the way, too, but this list is focusing on fiction. Partly because I read a lot more of it and partly because it’s easier for me to come up with 14 titles. So, here goes (in no particular order)!


New (or new to me) titles

Bird FaceThe Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson (a medieval retelling of the Cinderella story)

Bird Face by Cynthia Toney (a young adult book by one of my critique group partners; this will be her debut novel – I’m so excited for her!)

Bash and the Chicken Coop Caper by Burton Cole (the second in Burt’s middle grade series about zany cousins Bash and Beamer – and I’m proud to call him a critique group partner, too!)

Doon by Carey Corp and Laurie Langdon (a young adult fantasy that has two friends traveling to an alternate world in Scotland)

The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill (nerdy girl Ellie writes her first novel and learns that her real and imaginary worlds might intersect more than she thought)

DoonThe Selection by Kiera Cass (dystopian romance that I’ll probably enjoy so much that I’ll read the entire trilogy)

A Beauty So Rare by Tamara Alexander (the latest historical romance from one of my all-time favorite authors)

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (the latest in his Heroes of Olympus series with Percy Jackson and friends – my son and I will probably spar over who gets to read it first)


And a few classics

Pride and Prejudice (I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but I’ve seen a couple of movie versions but have never actually read the book)

The Scarlet Letter (I remember loving this book in high school once I slogged through the beginning – we’ll see if that still holds true)

Wrinkle in TimeA Wrinkle in Time (I read this one, but don’t remember much about it – time to change that!)

Fahrenheit 451 (another one I enjoyed reading in high school – plus my son will be reading it next semester so I thought it’d be fun to run through it again)

The Hobbit (yes, this is partly because of the movie series – it’s been so long since I read the book that I can’t remember which parts of the movies are accurate and which are just Hollywood)

To Kill a Mockingbird (I liked this in high school and my son really enjoyed reading it last year; since it’s on our bookshelf, why not enjoy it again?)


Your turn: What books are you planning to read in 2014? Any particular reason why? I’d love to know, because then I’ll probably add them to my own list! 

Happy New Year! 🙂

Sneak Peek: Spiraling Out of Control

For our final Christmas Book Tour Sneak Peek, I’m featuring Spiralling Out of Control by Michelle Dennis Evans. It’s written from a Christian world view, but does touch on some adult themes and is recommended for readers ages 17 and up.

Michelle Dennis EvansMore about Michelle:

Michelle Dennis Evans writes picture books, chapter books, young adult contemporary novels and enjoys dabbling in free verse poetry. Her debut novel Spiralling Out of Control and poetry collection Life Inspired both reached #1 in subcategories on Amazon in their first week of release. Michelle is passionate about seeing people grow and move forward in their journey. She lives on the Gold Coast with her husband and four super active, super fun and super time consuming children. Find Michelle and all of her social media links at MichelleDennisEvans.com


More about the book:

Temptation, depression, seduction, betrayal … Not what Stephanie was expecting at fifteen years of age. Uprooted from her happy, all-girl high school life with a dream filled future and thrown into an unfriendly co-ed school, Stephanie spirals into depression.

When charismatic high school senior, Jason notices her, Stephanie jumps in feet first and willingly puts all her faith and trust in him, a boy she barely knows.

Every choice she makes and turn she takes leads her towards a dangerous path.

Her best friend is never far away and ready to catch her … but will she push Tabbie too far away when she needs her most?

Spiralling Out of Control PREVIEWExcerpt from Spiralling Out of Control – Chapter 3 part c

“Steph, dinner is ready.” Diane knocked on her door.

Stephanie didn’t reply.

“Look,” her mother opened the door. “I know it wasn’t the best start, but why don’t you come downstairs for dinner. Dad’s just come home and he wants us to eat together.”

Dragging herself off the bed, Stephanie followed her mother.

“Hello, Steph.” Her father spoke while focusing on the newspaper. “Mum said you didn’t have a good day.”

Stephanie wanted to rip the paper from his hands. But didn’t.

They sat at the table while April dissected her fabulous day. “Oh, there’s three girls in my class who do gymnastics,” she said. “They go to the best club. I just have to join it.”

Her father looked up from the paper. “We can book you in for a trial, if you like.”

“There’s a birthday this weekend. Jenna has invited me. Is it okay if I go? Well, I kind of already replied but I … well is it okay?”

John tilted his paper forward, peering over the top. “I hope you didn’t invite yourself.”

April shook her head. “There’s a play coming up and I’m trying out for a part tomorrow.”

Diane smiled. “Do you need help with learning lines? Maybe Stephanie can help.”

Stephanie pulled a face at April and shook her head, rolling her eyes.

“Mum, can you come and help at school?” April asked.

“Yes, I should be able to fit in one or two days.”

“Dad, they’re asking for fathers to help with some of the backdrops and props. Can I put you down for that?”

He folded the paper in half, putting it down. “It depends what time and which day they need me.”

“Mum, I can’t believe they gave me readers. They’re so easy. I can read way better than that!”

All Stephanie heard was, “Blah blah blah,” while April continued to prattle on. Argh!

After dinner, Stephanie resumed her position on her bed, staring at the ceiling, letting the loud music thump off the walls until her mother asked her to turn it down for the night. She held her aching head in her hands and cried herself to sleep. That night she had nightmares of up-close faces coming one after the other, laughing.


Stephanie’s mother stopped right in front of the school gate for the third day in a row.

“Mum! Could you stop a little further away from the gate?”

“Why? There’s no other cars right in front,” Diane said. “Saves you the walk.”

Believe me, Mum, you are making my life worse.

Stephanie groaned as she leant against the car door that never closed on the first shove. Before she even looked up, the banter had started.

“Wanna have lunch?” one boy asked, followed by one of his friends with, “Oh, no she already has a lunch date … with herself.”

“Shut up, idiots.” Stephanie urged her feet to move faster.

The boys erupted with laughter. The only difference each day was different boys delivered the lines, adding obscene remarks about her body parts. Wolf-whistle boy was always in the centre, finishing with a whistle each day.

“Get a life,” she told them as she walked away.

Thanks for reading the excerpt, and visit author Michelle Dennis Evans online if you’d like to learn more. And … please pop over to the John 3:16 page and enter the Rafflecopter for your chance to win a $200 Amazon voucher http://bit.ly/Christian_Books

Look for These New Books!

Bash and Running Lean 2

Bash & the Pirate Pig by Burton W. Cole and Running Lean by Diana L. Sharples

I had a few minutes to stop by the closest Lifeway store and was thrilled to find two special books on the shelf — Bash and the Pirate Pig by Burton Cole and Running Lean by Diana Sharples.

Let me tell you a bit about them and why I was so tickled.

Diana and I have seen each other’s names through online writing groups and classes for quite a while and have met and had the chance to talk at a couple of writing conferences. She’s a gifted writer and artist with a heart for teens and has worked hard at this publication game. Running Lean is her debut YA novel about Calvin and Stacey, a high school couple who balance each other out while they each battle private demons. Calvin still grieves for his brother’s death in Afghanistan and Stacey is succumbing to anorexia. Tough topics, but very real life for teens today. I’m only a few chapters into the book, but am enjoying it very much.

Burt is the fearless leader of an online writing critique group that started a couple of years ago for a few of us who were writing middle grade fiction. We read and critiqued Bash and the Pirate Pig from page one, celebrated with Burt when he signed with a literary agent, and threw another online party when he signed a publishing contract. Bash is the story of Raymond, a somewhat dull city kid who gets packed off to spend the summer on the farm with his cousin Bash (Sebastian). Nothing is dull after that! Burt uses lots of stories from his own childhood as the basis for escapades Bash and Raymond (aka Beamer) get pulled into. Cow tipping, cow riding, skunk tracking, hayloft flying, and more had me laughing every time Burt sent a chapter for us to read. It’s a book middle school kids (especially boys!) will love — and the best news is, another story about Bash and Beamer is also under contract.

I’ll post more official reviews later, but for now just know that these are two great books you don’t want to miss. If you see either of them in the store or decide to pick up a copy, come back and let me know what you thought!


My To-Read Pile

Here are the books fighting for the top spot on my “read me next” pile. Which do you think I should go with, and why?


In case you can’t read all the titles, here’s the rundown:

  • Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK, by Betsy St. Amant
  • The Fairest Beauty, by Melanie Dickerson
  • Insurgent, by Veronica Roth
  • The Curse of Captain LaFoote, by Eddie Jones
  • Storyteller, by Patricia Reilly Giff
  • The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z., by Kate Messner
  • Matched, by Ally Condie
  • House of Dark Shadows, by Robert Liparulo
  • Unstoppable, by Tim Green

Yes, the old saying is definitely true at my house — so many books, so little time! Happy weekend. — and happy reading! 🙂


Book Review: Swept Away by Nicole O’Dell

Kids want to read books that are realistic instead of cheesy, but a lot of parents want to be sure their kids read books that are decent and don’t push them into “too old” things too soon. One author who’s trying to make both groups (parents and kids) happy is Nicole O’Dell. The books in her Scenarios for Girls series offer something I’ve not seen in other Christian YA novels – the chance for readers to truly see the story from both sides of the spectrum.

The books tackle lots of issues facing girls today – cheating, purity, taking dares, dealing with parents or teachers, and more. Each story has you  “along for the ride” with the main character until she reaches the point of needing to make an important, life-changing decision. The main story stops, and readers are asked to decide how they would handle the situation in the exact same circumstances. Then you continue the story, depending on how you answer. Better yet, you can read both endings to see how things might play out in the real world for both options. It’s a great way to help girls think through situations and the potential outcomes before they find themselves in the same predicament. Once a girl finishes reading the book, she has the chance to make a written commitment to implement the lessons she’s learned from the story. A parent or other trusted adult can witness her commitment and help her with accountability.

The stories I read were from Swept Away, which includes two of the Scenarios books – High Stakes and Essence of Lilly. I haven’t read others in the series, but love the whole concept. The stories themselves are interesting and right on target for today’s girls. Letting them become a part of how the story ends will hopefully help girls remember the story and its message, long after the book goes back on the shelf. I applaud O’Dell for writing for these girls in such a real way, and I’ll be passing Swept Away onto some of the girls at church. With Christmas shopping time right around the corner, you might want to look for Swept Away or the other Scenarios for Girls books for a special middle or high school girl in your life.

Ages and reading levels: Swept Away and the other Scenarios for Girls books are marketed as young adult fiction, which means they’re targeting kids in the 13-17 age range (or so). The characters in the books I read are in high school. Some of the topics might be a little more geared toward older readers, but the writing itself is fine for middle school girls and I would be fine letting a middle schooler read Swept Away. It might even be OK for some fifth graders, but I wouldn’t recommend it for girls younger than that because some of the situations might be too old for them.

For more info on Nicole O’Dell and her books and Teen Talk radio program, visit her online.

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