Tween & Teen Book Recommendations from our Writing Club!
Because writers are readers, book reviews are a regular part of our bi-monthly Writing Club! Check out what our True North Homeschool Academy Tweens and Teens are reading and see if you can’t find something new to add to your book list!
- The Knight & Kingdom series by Chuck Black -5*
- Cross Roads by Paul Willis -5*
- The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel -3.5*
- Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis -5* An insightful, thought-provoking piece, done by the ever brilliant CS Lewis, on the old, well known Cupid and Psyche myth. Something to be aware of: this book is a CS Lewis masterpiece, and therefore if you do not look past the face of this book, then you have missed the entire point of CS Lewis. This is a layered book. And I mean LAYERED. Though the writing is simple enough, the ideas, metaphors, and insight are all pretty hefty. Don’t read this if you aren’t ready to think deeply.
- The Visitation, Frank Peretti -4* A burned-out pastor struggles and grows in his faith as a man claiming to be Jesus shows up in his town. Supernatural events turn the small town upside-down…he must take action. Good read overall- drags towards the middle, but once you get towards the end you’re almost afraid to put it down!
- Silas Marner, By George Eliot – 5* Set in old England, it walks through the life of a falsely accused weaver and his slow redemption.
- Fahrenheit 451; Ray Bradbury -5* What would happen if books were illegal? What would happen if America gave up on substance and chased after pleasure? Ray Bradbury looks into this idea in his classic, award-winning Fahrenheit 451. From the view of a Firefighter, whose whole job is to burn books, life isn’t going well. His wife almost commits suicide, he isn’t happy, and war is on the horizon. Through curiosity, and something like instinct he starts to snitch books, and after a particularly rough day, decides to see what’s inside them, which launches him into a odd sort of journey, or adventure, but I think it’s a little more interesting than that, I just don’t know what else to call it.
- The Unwanteds -5 *
- The Hobbit by Tolkien- (fantasy) -5* Bilbo was a hobbit. He didn’t do much, and he didn’t go anywhere. But he had a friend who happened to be a wizard, who decided that it is about time Bilbo ought to have an adventure. After being horrified at the amount of personality that can fit into the small body of a dwarf, not to mention their appalling manners, Bibo eventually joins a bond with the plus-sized personalities of the dwarfs and has the opportunity to have a riddle contest not only with a dilapidated hobbit but also a dragon. Plus he also gets to sing songs with elves, and travel through giant spider infested forests. What more could you ask for?
- The Menagerie Trilogy by Sue Ann Carter Sutherland -5*
- The Ascendance Trilogy, by Jennifer Nelson -5*This is the story of a mischievous prince ascending to his throne despite the many obstacles. Five stars.
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien -4* When Frodo Baggins inherits a magical ring, he is thrown headlong into the quest of a lifetime. This epic novel tells a story of love, bravery and the extraordinary battle between good and evil. Although rather long, it is a suspenseful and action-packed read to the very end.
- Michael Vey series, by Richard Paul Evans 4* This seven-book series is the story of teenagers with abilities involving electricity. It is not strictly Christian, but an adventurous read.
- Kensuke’s Kingdom by M Markpuro -4.5*
- Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland -5* -Clay, Tsunami, Sunny, Starflight, and Glory must save the world with their awesomeness. A giant war is raging…but what can five dragonets do? Sutherland gives wonderful voice to her characters, and though it’s at an easy reading level, you can’t put it down until you’ve read cover to cover (or book 1 to book 5).
- Michael Vey series, by Richard Paul Evans. 4*This seven-book series is the story of teenagers with abilities involving electricity. It is not strictly Christian, but an adventurous read.
- The Ascendance Trilogy, by Jennifer Nelson. 5*This is the story of a mischievous prince ascending to his throne despite the many obstacles.
- The King of Shadows (Shakespeare’s Time) -5*
- Carry on, Mr. Bowditch -5* (colonial America)
- The Star Under the City -5* (WWII)
- Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz -5* (WWII)
- Michael O’Shaunessey and his parents are spies in Germany during WWII. When he joins (infiltrates) the Hitler youth, things get complicated. This is a fantastic book. Humor, suspense, history, adventure…this book has got it all.
- Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell -4*
- How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie -5* One word: Fascinating! I don’t agree with all of his policies, but the amount of examples he gives as evidence of success is astounding! Dale Carnegie not only has an amazing writing style, and wonderful stories, but his content is worth looking into. Whether you are in the workplace, with your kids, or with human beings in general, How to win friends and influence people could be the answer to well, some, your problems.
- The Mystery & the Minister’s Wife Series -5*
- The Secret of the Golden Cowrie by Gloria Repp- 5* This book is about a little girl trying to find a precious shell while escaping danger along the way.
So there are our top book recommendations. How about you? What are you reading?
Book recommendations given by our amazing Writing Club members: Parker, Hannah, Emily, Gabi, Malachi, Ada, Venetia, and Sydney.
(Interested in joining the True North Homeschool Academy writing club? You can check it out here.)
(The following is a review of The Eighth Ransom, written by Given Hoffman.)
The Eighth Ransom by Given Hoffman is a story about trust, anger, hope, wits, and ultimately, faith.
Trent Soris is an artist with a chip on his shoulder, and Ashley Rye is what Trent would describe as an annoying religious kid. When kidnapped with six others from across the U.S., they have nothing in common but their enemy. To survive, all eight of them must overcome their differences. By working together, they just might prevent their ransoms from being used in an international plot that captures the attention of even the National Counter terrorism Center. But when lies test their unity and even the truth holds secrets none of them expected, their strengths may not be enough to save them and everyone else at risk. – From the back cover of The Eighth Ransom
Given Hoffman really makes you care about what happens to the characters, and the fear that they all ‘gonna die is very real while reading the book. Given does a great job facing human weaknesses and the reasons behind them, and this flows nicely into the uniqueness of each character. For example, one of the main characters is rude, mad at life, and just plain obnoxious, born of trying to get his Mom’s attention. The character is un-likeable but important to the story. Another character is the calm and stable Ethan, the leader that keeps the other teens motivated. Wise beyond his years, it is only because he too has experienced extremely deep pain in his life that he is able to be as strong as he is.
As Given Hoffman puts it:
The Eighth Ransom was born from the question: what would happen if a bunch of kids from different locations, families, and religions were all thrown together in a high-stress situation? Would they be able to work together? Or would they just end up fighting with each other?
It is an interesting concept as the characters come from wildly different backgrounds; two of the characters are Christians, the other six atheists or agnostic. They range from the extremely poor, to extremely rich, and vary in skills and attitudes that help or hinder their situation.
Would I recommend The Eighth Ransom?
I found the book to be very enjoyable, and the story and characters engaging and believable. The plot was suspenseful and engaging, fast-paced and action-packed. I was happily surprised at how much I enjoyed this action-packed suspense novel. This story is a suspenseful, well written thought experiement that leaves readers wondering how it will all resolve. A perfect novel for teens who enjoy suspense and intrigue.
Be prepared for the ending to be a little cheesy compared to the suspenseful fast pace of the rest of the story. Definitely not a deal breaker technique as It’s hard for a happy ending to do otherwise, especially one that wraps up the story as effectively as this one. I also found the villain a little weird; all the trouble he goes to, and all the treason he commits for the sake of his goal are little disproportionate in my mind. Even with that, it doesn’t affect my taste for the story. Highly recommended, a enjoyable, fun, action packed read.
As an added bonus, Given Hoffman took time out of her busy writing schedule to guest speak to our Writing Club last spring, given students excellent advice on how to develop the tools and skills of writing, as well as how to develop professionally as a published author. Not only is Ms. Hoffman an excellent author, but a passionate and encouraging speaker.
The Eighth Ransom– highly recommended for those who love fast paced adventure, good clean fun and books worth thinking about.
(Are you looking for more great books? Check out our Book Recommendations from Tweens & Teens.)
For more information about the author and her work, go to Given Hoffman, go to givenhoffman.com.
Are you looking for a great book for your tween or teen? Check out these book recommendations from the students in the True North Homeschool Academy Writing Club!
Fantasy Book Recommendations
The Map to Everywhere series (four books), by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis; Two children along with their magical friends go on adventures together to find the pieces to the Map to Everywhere so they can save people they love. Fantasy. Four stars (the third book has a less than satisfying ending in my opinion).
The Wingfeather Saga, by Andrew Peterson; Chronicles of Narnia/Lord of the Rings genre. Five Stars. It is a wonderfully whimsical adventure with spectacular characters and some deep underlying themes.
“The Moffats.”, by Eleanor Estes; Four stars. An older book, this hilarious story is a laugh a minute, following the lives of the unforgettable Moffat family. I would recommend this for a younger audience (ages 7-12).
All the wrong questions Lemony Snicket, five stars,
The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, by Christopher Paolini; Fantasy. 4.5 stars. A wonderful addition to the Inheritance Cycle! It follows the further adventures of a dragon rider named Eragon, as he and Saphira work to establish a new home for dragons and riders alike.
Story Thieves, by James Riley, five stars
The Wings of Fire series, by Tui T. Sutherland. You will laugh and cry! Five stars.
Fiction Book Recommendations
Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life, by James Patterson. Five stars.
Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World. A look at the world of mission work and cross-cultural experiences.
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins; Not great fiction, Three stars. I have often wondered why people liked this movie/book series, especially after my brother praised it rather highly (he has since repented of his blunders) and so in a quest to become educated in the world of literature, I began my quest by reading The first hunger games. I was rather disappointed, and half way through the second book, I was forced to put the book down. The main reason was it was rather gruesome, and gory, (not to mention multiple nude references) not only that but I felt rather ‘bummed’ after reading it because there doesn’t seem to be any authoritative hope, or redemption at the end. (plus it was just plain SAD!) The first book was tolerable, but I did not like the second one at all.
Beauty, by Robin McKinley, five stars. This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Excellent vocabulary and unique storytelling.The Outlaws of Sherwood, by Robin McKinley, five stars. This is a retelling of Robin Hood. Good character development and suspense.
Pictures of Hollis Woods, by Patricia Reilly Giff. This is a relatively short book about a girl in foster care, trying to find a family. It’s very picturesque and descriptive, and Giff has a unique way of getting into her character’s personalities. Fictional. Five stars.
Winnie the Horse Gentler, by Dandi Daley Mackall A fun story about horses and a young girl who must learn to live without her Mom. 5 Stars
The Imagination Station Series by Focus on the Family. For fans of FoF Imagination station and want more than just the radio drama. 5 Stars
Mystery Book Recommendations
Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series (three books in the series), by Chris Grabenstein; Kids get placed in a library and have to solve riddles and puzzles to escape. Five stars.
Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett; Fun and thought-provoking. Two kids go on an adventure to save a missing painting. In the illustrations, there is a puzzle that’s really fun to solve.
The Prisoner of the Pyrenees by C. R. Hegecock in her amazing Baker Family Adventures series. This book is part of my very favorite series. This series is a wonderful group of books, full of excitement, wonderful truths, and awesome mystery. Not to mention the great characters, settings, and plots. You could tear up on this one!
The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart; Mystery/fiction. 5 stars.
Historical Fiction Book Recommendations
Listen to the Moon, by Michael Morpurgo; A boy and his father find a young girl who cannot speak on an island near their home. They try to figure out where she came from and what happened to her. Historical fiction (set in 1915). Four stars (it’s kinda sad).
Projekt 1065, by Alan Gratz; Historical Fiction. 5+ stars. This is a fantastic book! It follows the story of an Irish teen who joins the Hitler Youth- as a spy.
The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, Self-published. Five stars. If you’re looking for a good historical fiction series, this series is the place to go to. The characters are amazing, and the plots keep you wanting to read on.
Amos Fortune Free Man, by Elin Yates, five stars
Little Britches, by Ralph Moody. Autobiography. 5 stars! We read this one out loud, and everyone was next to, (if not in the midst of) tears at the end! It’s a biography about a boy, (Ralph Moody himself) as he grows from a boy, into a young man. It also portrays, in a very, very beautiful, realistic, touching, and even humorous aspects of family, and everything that goes with it; including love, joy, sorrow, and pain. One of the best books I have ever read! (it is actually apart of a series, but I haven’t read any of the other ones.) It also portrays the times very well, and is a great family read aloud!
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak; historical fiction. Will make you cry (a LOT!) and laugh . . but not as much as you will cry. 5 stars! Another one of the greats! A very, very creative, thoughtful, and interesting perspective on not only WWII, but also on regular life. It is for sure one of the best books I have ever read. Though, just a heads up, I wouldn’t allow anyone below the age of 12, maybe even 13 to read it, due to some swearing, and rather complicated concepts. Told from a unique perspective you follow the interesting life of Liesel Meminger. WARNING! You will probably cry at the end . . . HARD!
Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen; 4 stars. Simple, and sweet. A story about family, and the beautiful countryside, plus all of the awesome miracles that come with both! (though, I gotta disagree with the author that winter is a nice time of year. Where I live, it’s the blue-fingered time of year).
Operation morning star by Dorothy LIlja Harrison. A brother and sister must travel across war-torn Germany to reach their father before he sails for America. 5 stars.
Gothic Fiction Book Recommendations
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë; Gothic Fiction. An excellent read- grab your tissues! 4 stars. Made her cry.
Thriller Book Recommendations
The Cooper Kids Adventure series, by Frank E. Peretti. Mystery/adventure/action. Five stars. A great book series for children and teens alike who are looking for thrilling reads that are clean.
Non-Fiction Book Recommendations
He’s Making Diamonds, by S. G. Willoughby. Non-fiction. Five stars. A non-fiction that is applicable to many in their life. It’s super encouraging with very very good truths and illustrations.
The Elements of Style, by William Strunk; Four stars. Writing\grammar. A great start to the confusing world of writing style. It covers everything from punctuation to format.
Romance Book Recommendations
The Thief, the Damsel and the Dragon by Angela R Watts; Self-published. Romance/contemporary fiction. five stars. A unique romance with a very intriguing plot.
This booklist was compiled by our Writing Club for AWesome People! We meet bi-monthly and have a blast talking good books and great writing! Next year we’ll also be offering Jr. High Writing Club!