Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Teen Inklings Vol. 20: Top Ten Books of 2010

Novel Teen is a blog I'm a part of, and they posted their Top Ten Books of 2010 list awhile back. If you are looking for a good book to read, we hope this list will give you some inspiration. Click on the title or picture to view each book on Amazon.com.

1. Asking for Trouble (Book one in the London Confidential series) by Sandra Byrd
(A contemporary series for girls. All four books in the series are now available.)

Review by Jill Williamson:
Savvy Smith and her family recently moved to England to live. Savvy misses her best friend from Seattle. She’s trying to make new friends in London, but it seems no one has room for a new friend in their life, especially a weird American.

An opportunity arises for Savvy to work at the school newspaper. She has always wanted to be a journalist and she hopes this might be a way to make some friends. She applies for the position, but her lack of experience makes her a paperboy instead of columnist. If only she could find a way to prove that she is a good writer. But how?

Sandra Byrd always tells a good story. I love her Friends for a Season books, so I was excited to read her new series. Asking for Trouble did not disappoint. I enjoyed Savvy’s character, how she thought things out and how she struggled to understand all the differences in British culture and language. Sandra did a great job with her British accents and lingo in the other character’s dialogue. It was fun to read. I also liked Savvy’s determination and drive to make her own future, rather than mope about what she didn’t have or try to follow someone else. This was a fun read that made you think and I highly recommend it.

Age Range: 12 and up
Genre: Contemporary
Part of a Series: London Confidential, book one
Pages: 216
Publisher: Tyndale

2. Final Touch (Rayne Tour, book three) by Brandilyn Collins
(Great for girls who love mystery and suspense. All three books in the trilogy are now available.)

Review by Jill Williamson:
It’s wedding day for Rayne O’Connor and Shaley’s father, Gary Donovon. Shaley couldn’t be happier. She has longed for this day all her life. But minutes before the ceremony begins, Shaley is kidnapped! She tries to do all she can to leave a trail, in hopes that the police will find her, but Shaley’s kidnapper is always one step ahead. Will Shaley’s life as she knows it end forever?

Just when we thought it was happily ever after for the O’Connor family. Here is every mother’s nightmare in book form! Shaley is taken by a man who intends to keep her. This whole thing reminded me of the Elizabeth Smart story. I was terrified for Shaley and thrilled with how wise she was about trying to leave a trail of evidence. This book plugs right along and you won’t be able to put it down until the end. Well done, Brandilyn and Amberly! Highly recommended.

Age Range: 12-16
Genre: suspense
Part of a Series: Book three in the Rayne Tour
Pages: 224
Publisher: Zondervan

3. The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
(A medieval, fairy tale romance.)

Review by Jill Williamson:
Rose has begun her training as the healer’s apprentice. She hopes to learn the job well so that someday she can be the healer of Hagenheim Castle and not have to marry any aging bachelors. But the mere sight of blood makes Rose swoon. Still, she is determined to make this life work for herself.

One day, when the master healer is away, Lord Hamlin, heir to Hagenheim Castle, is brought in with a grievous wound. Rose is the only one who can help. As she struggles to do a good job, she cannot help but notice how handsome and kind Lord Hamlin is. But she is a mere peasant, and Lord Hamlin is betrothed to another. Rose must fight against her attraction and focus on becoming a healer. For that is her destiny, is it not?

Melanie Dickerson writes a wonderful fairy tale romance. Her characters are noble and good, yet struggle with doing the right thing and sometimes fail. She paints a realistic medieval world from the beauty of Hagenheim Castle to the laws that governed society then. I was drawn in from page one and read the whole book in one day. If you love medieval stories, fairy tales, and romance, you must read this book. I’m so excited about Melanie Dickerson’s writing. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Highly recommended.

Age Range: 12 and up
Genre: Historical romance
Part of a Series: No
Pages: 257
Publisher: Zondervan

4. Kestrel’s Midnight Song by J.R. Parker
(Fantasy adventure. Great for boys, girls, and adults, too.)

Review by Jill Williamson:
Slave girl, Robbyn, is nearly burned to death in a fire set by the Marauder King. Drift, a giant, rescues her. Together they set off to warn King Darius that the Marauder King plans to attack the land of Gable. But will they get there in time? And even if they do, will anyone believe the claims of a slave girl and a giant?

Shepherd boy, Micah, embarks on a journey. He must deliver a herd of sheep to the Gable Kingdom Castle. King Darius has requested that the sheep’s wool be sheared for his wardrobe. Many dangers await Micah on this long journey. And little does he know that the fate of the kingdom rests on his shoulders.

Kestrel’s Midnight Song is a solid addition to the fantasy genre. Jacob Parker started this story when he was fifteen years old! This young author writes an imaginative tale, filled with adventure, mystery, and unique characters. The storylines intertwine and keep the reader turning the pages, desperate to see how it will all work out. There are several plot twists that surprised me. I can’t wait to see if there will be a sequel. Highly recommended.

Age Range: 12 and up
Genre: fantasy
Part of a Series: No
Pages: 256
Publisher: Flaming Pen Press

5. Manga (Scenarios for Girls, book three) by Nicole O’Dell
(A contemporary, choose-your-own-ending book. There are four books available in this series so far.)

Review by Jill Williamson:
Molly and her friends want to find a part time job to earn extra cash and a discount on great clothes. But Molly is the only one of her trio that gets hired at Manga, the coolest clothing store ever. At first everything is going great. Molly is really good at her job and quickly gets more responsibility. But some girls at school try to bully her into giving her special deals and then her best friends ask her to do something she knows is wrong. What will Molly do?

You decide.

That’s right. This is a Choose Your Own Scenario book, where you read all about Molly’s life and then choose what she will do next. Then the book has two alternate endings, one for each choice Molly could make.

What an awesome idea for a series of books! And the author handled this in such a wonderful way. Whether Molly chose to break the law or stand against her friends, she was still Molly. There were consequences to both choices, and some consequences were harder to live through than others, but this wasn’t preachy. This was honest. So even in the ending where Molly chose to break the law, there was still redemption, and it was neat to read how she dealt with such humbling circumstances.

So I highly recommend this series to all girls. It’s a fun story to read for entertainment and a neat opportunity to see two sides of one choice.

Age Range: 8 and up
Genre: Contemporary
Part of a Series: Scenarios for Girls, book three
Pages: 190
Publisher: Barbour

6. Secrets Under the Midnight Sun by Elisa Maria Crites
(A historical story that deals with complex family issues.)

Review by Jill Williamson:
It’s 1967 in Fairbanks, Alaska. Twelve-year-old Fredricka O’Reilly has a secret that she doesn’t want anyone to know about. Her brother is gone off in the Air Force, so the only one she can turn to his her mother. But if she tells her mother the truth, it could rip her family apart. What’s a girl to do?

This is a story about a girl who just wants to enjoy life. Her daddy makes that hard, especially when he cuts her off from her best friends. For the most part, the story is lighthearted, filled with the fun things in Freddie’s life. Freddie’s hopes and dreams are heartwarming and I yearned that she would have the freedom she craved. Having been to Fairbanks , Alaska , I also enjoyed the history of the town and the visits to AlaskaLand. In the end, I wanted to read more about Freddie to see what she would do next.

Age Range: 12 and up
Genre: historical/contemporary
Part of a Series: no
Pages: 108
Publisher: Westbow Press (A Division of Thomas Nelson)

7. So Over It (Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt, book three) by Stephanie Morrill
(A contemporary story for girls. All three books in the trilogy are available.)

Review:
After all the drama that went down at the end of her senior year, Skylar is ready to move on. She jumps at the chance to visit her grandparents in Hawaii. She only plans to stay a few weeks, but perhaps Hawaii would be a good place for a fresh start, where she won’t run into her old friends everywhere she goes. But will she be strong enough to be who God is calling her to be?

Whew! I am thrilled with how everything came together in this third and final installment of the Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series. There is still some drama going on in Skylar’s life, even though she tried to get away from it. But she’s finally learning that no one is perfect and that true forgiveness is an awesome, freeing experience. I loved how everything came together, and certain characters matured and were able to do the right thing, even when they wanted to do the selfish thing. I’m being vague because I don’t want to spoil it. J

This is a great series for teen girls. There is romance drama, friend drama, and what do to with my life drama, but it’s fun, realistic, and entertaining. You won’t be able to put them down until you’ve read all three. I highly recommend!

Age Range: 12-16
Genre: contemporary
Part of a Series: Book three in the Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series
Pages: 262
Publisher: Revell

8. So Over My Head (A Charmed Life, book three) by Jenny B. Jones
(A hysterical contemporary mystery story for girls. All three books in the trilogy are available.)

Review by Gretchen Hoffman:
What’s better than a circus with clowns, a unicycle ballet (a skill I’ve been meaning to take up), and a bearded lady? Aside from a good waxing (for the bearded lady, of course), nothing! Ms. Jenny B. Jones writes yet another knee-slapping, laugh out loud, hysterical book that is a must, must, mustread!

Our favorite accidental detective, Bella Kirkwood, finds herself in over her head when she stumbles across the dead body of the Fritz Family Carnival’s fat (and also bearded) lady. Although another carnival member is arrested, Bella doubts his culpability, and decides to find the real murderer. Even though Bella doubts this man’s guilt, there are a few things she doesn’t doubt. For one, she’s certain Luke’s ex-girlfriend’s is interested in nothing other than stealing Luke back. Bella also knows her dad’s fiancĂ©e is up to no good. All she needs now is to prove it!

Expect nothing short of crazy schemes, a ride on a Ferris wheel, a creeper, and an undercover operation for Bella to bring a murderer to justice, figure out what to do with Luke’s ex, and stop her dad’s wedding. All in a day’s work, right? Bella’s friends and family are a whole cast of characters, and I love Ruthie (a kooky, crack-up), her stepbrother Budge (who works at the Weiner Palace—that alone is hilarious), her step-dad’s crazy wrestler friends, and a 13-year-old trapeze artist. If you’ve read books one and two, book three is a requirement. And if you have yet to pick up a book by Ms. Jones, definitely check this series out!

Age Range: 12-16
Genre: Contemporary
Part of a Series: A Charmed Life, book 3
Pages: 326
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

9. To Darkness Fled (Book two in the Blood of Kings trilogy) by Jill Williamson
(Fantasy, adventure, and a bit of romance for all ages. Books one and two in the trilogy are available.)

Review by Christian Miles:
The second installment of the Blood of Kings series will thrill, surprise, and delight readers just as much as the first. With stellar craftsmanship, the author continues to thrust her characters into a myriad of plot-driven obstacles that will have readers biting their nails late into the night.

The story picks up right where By Darkness Hid left off, with Achan, Vrell, and the Kingsguard knights fleeing into Darkness to escape the wrath of their former prince. They head north toward Ice Island in the hopes that they can free the wrongly accused men imprisoned there. Vrell continues to masquerade as a boy, but she knows it’s only a matter of time before she’ll either have to reveal her true identity, or abandon the party of questers. Achan, who has only ever known the life of a Stray, wrestles with the decor and responsibilities that come with his newfound authority. As they flee across Er’rets, their bloodvoicing talents and swordcraft excel, but in a world of ever-growing Darkness, how can two teens stay in the Light?

This is the best novel I’ve read since By Darkness Hid came out, and I’m a fairly voracious reader. I’d recommend it to anyone I know, young or old, male or female, fantasy lover or not. It’s just that good.

“Williamson pens an action-packed, imaginative second installment in the Blood of Kings trilogy. All the familiar epic elements and emotions are freshly rendered, with Vrell and Achan especially memorable. The pace gallops along, leaving readers hungry for the concluding book.” -Publishers Weekly

Age Range: 14 and up
Genre: Fantasy
Part of a Series: Book 2 in the Blood of Kings trilogy
Pages: 681 Publisher: Marcher Lord Press

10. To Save a Life by Jim and Rachel Britts
(A contemporary story based on the feature film.)

Review by Jill Williamson:
Jake and Roger were once best friends. They did everything together. Roger even stepped in front of a car to save Jake. But when they got to high school, and Jake got better at basketball, things started to change. Jake started hanging out with the popular crowd. Before he knew it, he didn’t have time for Roger at all.

And now Roger is dead. None of Jake’s new friends even know that he and Roger were once friends. They don’t understand what this loss means. Jake wonders what’s the point of it all? And if he had done things in his life differently, could he have saved Roger?

As Jake searches for answers and tries to find meaning in life, his friends just don’t get it. But Jake can’t go back, even if it costs him his reputation.

I’d wanted to see this movie, but it never came to a theater near me, not that any theater is near me…So I bought the book to tide me over. I’m totally glad I did. This book was powerful. It threw me into Jake’s life, the life most every guy wishes he had: star athlete with a full ride scholarship to play for his dream school, the perfect girlfriend, fun best friends, and popularity. Then tragedy strikes and Jake starts to ask important questions. And he won’t give up until he finds the answer.

This book gets into faith in an honest and ugly way. Sometimes that’s what we need to see. There are a lot of “Christians” out there making Christians look bad, loving themselves more than they love others. This book shows one guy struggling to do it the right way, no matter what anyone thinks. What an inspiring story. Now I want to see the movie more than ever! I highly recommend this to all high school and college students.

Age Range: 14 and up
Genre: contemporary fiction
Part of a Series: No
Pages: 315
Publisher: Outreach

If you decide to give any of these books a chance, be sure and come back here to tell us what you thought! :-)

5 comments:

  1. Sweet! I recognized some very good books in there... ;) The others look intriguing as well.

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  2. I'd only read Kestrel's Midnight Song...some of the others look interesting, but I was disappointed by the dominance of modern realistic works.

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  3. Idk, Galadriel. 3 medieval fantasy books out of 10 is pretty good, for the CBA market. :)

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  4. Nice post :) I'm not big into contemporary books, but I really want to read the Blood of Kings Trilogy and Kestrel's Midnight Song. I've seen such great reviews of them all, plus their book trailers were really awesome! They seem like just the sort of books I would like . . . :)

    So, I wonder what April's post will be? Hmm . . . bet I can guess ;)

    Best,
    D. S. Dahnim

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  5. I seem to know the publishers of quite a few of them. Well, my dad did work for Zondervan. I know To Save A Life is a film. Kingsway distribute it here in the UK, don't know about the USA though...

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