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By C. S. Lewis

9780743234900C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, like most of his fiction, communicates profound theological truths through a compelling story. “Out of the Silent Planet,” “Perelandra,” and “That Hideous Strength” present wise and cutting insights that have established them as valuable resources for Christian adults. But thoughtful teenagers with good reading skills can also understand and benefit from them.

I should know; I read the space trilogy as a high-school student and loved it. “Perelandra” is still my favorite of Lewis’ novels. I enjoyed discovering Lewis’ colorful imagined worlds and seeing the theological ideas I had read about in his nonfiction play out in fiction. I didn’t fully grasp everything in the books, but I understood enough to appreciate them.
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By Tamara Ireland Stone

Every_Last_WordWhen was the last time you read a book that you simply could not put down? When you’re reading and you have to eat lunch or go to the bathroom, but you just cannot stop? Meeting Samantha McAllister and experiencing her inner struggles in “Every Last Word” is likely to offer just such an experience. It’s a journey unlike any other.

Samantha McAllister is a 16-year-old girl who, according to high school standards, has everything. A member of the “Crazy Eights,” a group of “mean girls” at her school, she has access to the best parties and tickets to the best concerts. She also has Pure-O.

Purely-Obsessional or “Pure-O” OCD is a form of OCD that affects internal thoughts. Since childhood, Samantha has suffered from negative thought spirals, obsessions, dark thoughts, and “minor” compulsions. When driving her car, she cannot park unless the odometer is on three. When a negative thought, such as wanting to cut off a friend’s ponytail, enters her mind, she has to leave the room.
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By Jenny Han

15749186Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song Covey has always been a "good girl." In the second chapter of Jenny Han's "To All the Boys I've Loved Before," Lara Jean tells us, "I've never cheated or gotten drunk or smoked a cigarette or even had a boyfriend." This is partly because she and her sisters want to make things easier for their widowed dad, and partly because that's just her nature.

But Lara Jean has been in love -- five times, in fact -- and she has a habit of writing letters to the boys she's fallen in love with and then storing them away in a hatbox. When the unthinkable happens and the letters get sent out without her knowledge, Lara Jean's quiet love life suddenly becomes very, very complicated. Before she knows it, she's denying her real feelings for her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh, while agreeing to a fake romance with "bad boy" Peter.
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By Nadine Brandes

9781621840299My thin rectangular Clock sits on the carved shelf across the room, clicking its red digital numbers—red like blood. Today marks the first day of my last year alive.

This is part of the opening of “A Time to Die,” a work of dystopian Christian fiction by Nadine Brandes. The United States of America has dissolved. Seventeen-year-old Parvin Blackwater lives in the United States of the East within sight of the Wall, which runs along the western border of Missouri, her home state. “It’s hard to imagine it encircles the Earth’s longitude,” she tells us, “but that’s what they say.”

The Wall has separated the rebellious Independents in the West from the government-controlled, law-abiding East for more than 100 years. Parvin and her family know nothing concrete about what remains in the West.
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By Sabaa Tahir

61BcvUoJGML._SX333_BO1204203200_“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after.”

For 17-year-old Laia, heroine of "An Ember in the Ashes," that moment comes when Martial soldiers raid her home in the Scholars’ Quarter. Even under the rule of the ruthless Martial Empire, she had managed to get by with the support of her grandparents and older brother, Darin. But when the soldiers raid, getting by isn’t enough. “Getting by” leaves her brother imprisoned on charges of treason. “Getting by” can’t keep her grandparents from being killed. Instead of fighting back, Laia runs in fear. Afterward, she can hardly live with the guilt that comes from knowing that she didn’t do enough to help them.

Desperate to save her only living family member, Laia strikes a deal with leaders of the Resistance. In exchange for their help freeing Darin, she promises to serve as their spy at Blackcliff, the leading military academy in the Empire. There, she will live as the servant of one of the Empire’s cruelest Martials, the commander of Blackcliff. She will work to reverse the evil that came upon her in that one definitive moment.
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By Sophie Kinsella

41i4toi6eL._SX330_BO1204203200_When we first meet 14-year-old Audrey Turner, she's trying to stop her mother from throwing her brother's computer out of an upstairs window.

And things just get crazier from there.

As this opening makes clear, "Finding Audrey," the first Young Adult novel by bestselling author Sophie Kinsella, introduces us to a British family going through some rough spots -- some of them comical, some genuinely traumatic. Audrey's brother Frank is hooked on computer games; Audrey's mother is hooked on the Daily Mail, which is full of alarmist articles that cause her to worry intensely about everything -- including Frank's being hooked on computer games.

Audrey herself is recovering from a long illness, following something horrible that happened at school. Interestingly, we never learn exactly what did happen, other than that it involved bullying by a group of schoolmates -- bullying that was so bad that Audrey ended up in the hospital, and some of the girls involved got expelled.
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By Stacey Lee

22501055As someone who drove across the country to Oregon early this summer, I have to say that modern conveniences make all the difference. An air-conditioned car, reliable gas stations, frequent bathrooms, comfortable hotels, and a McDonalds here and there make the four-day trip a bit more bearable then, say, making the trip on foot.

But that’s exactly what Samantha Young, a second generation Chinese-American, does when she’s thrown onto the 1849 Oregon Trail in Stacey Lee’s debut novel “Under a Painted Sky.”

Stacey Lee, a fourth generation Chinese-American, digs into American history and her own Chinese roots to create a unique adventure. The pace is frenetic from the beginning: Within the first few pages, we learn that Samantha has killed a man. A few pages more, and we learn that her father died in a terrible fire earlier that same day. Wracked with guilt and sorrow, and surely facing a death sentence for her accidental crime, Samantha does the only thing she can: She flees. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha turns towards California, where her father had been planning to travel.
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By Renée Ahdieh

TheWrathAndTheDawnCoverIn Eastern lore, there is a collection of legends and folktales that makes up an epic metafiction of interwoven stories. In English, this epic is called "The Thousand and One Nights," or "The Arabian Nights." Hundreds of legends reside within the frame story of a vengeful king who, after being betrayed by his adulterous wife, marries hundreds of virgins, one after the other, and kills each one the morning after the wedding. Only when Scheherazade marries him does this cycle end. Every night, for a thousand and one nights, she tells the king an ongoing story, so intriguing and mystifying that he keeps her alive so that she may finish it the next night.

You may recognize the names of a few popularized stories from the collection, some of which have been adapted by Disney. “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” are just two of the stories Scheherazade tells her husband.

In her debut YA novel, “The Wrath and the Dawn,” Renée Ahdieh adapts the story of “The Thousand and One Nights” into a sumptuous teen romance. Entering Ahdieh’s world with limited knowledge of the lore of “The Thousand and One Nights,” I was skeptical. How could an author possibly take this horrifically violent epic and create a believable love story? How could a woman fall in love with a man who killed her best friend? How could Ahdieh possibly adapt the legend into a love story without losing the original richness of the text?

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By Brian Godawa

enochDo you ever wish you could have some kind of amazing device that would allow you to experience biblical history as it happened, rather than just read about it?

Imagine what it would have been like to see the ark up close and then watch the animals gather on their own. What would it have been like to march with Joshua’s crowd around Jericho and see the walls of that mighty city collapse? How breathtaking would David’s fight with Goliath have been if you had had a front row seat to the event?

Unfortunately, no such gadget exists, and while what we do learn from the Bible is more than sufficient for our spiritual needs, there is also so much we don’t know about life back then. At best we have some snapshots of the lives and events that shaped history, tantalizing glimpses only of the full portrait of the past. Brian Godawa’s “Chronicles of the Nephilim” series, originally written for adults but also available in a Young Adult edition, doesn’t change this, but it does give the reader a chance to speculate, to ask the “what if” questions, and to realize that there is so much more to the familiar stories of the Bible than we will ever fully understand this side of heaven.
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By Cassie Beasley

CircusMirandus(Note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Ten-year-old Micah Tuttle has been brought up by his Grandpa Ephraim ever since his parents died, and the two of them have always shared a special bond. Micah loves learning to tie fancy knots just like his grandfather, and he can't get enough stories about the magical and mysterious Circus Mirandus that his grandfather visited as a child. But now everything is changing. Grandpa Ephraim is dangerously ill, and his sister, Micah's Aunt Gertrudis -- who "didn't like any of the things that Micah's grandfather liked, including ten-year-olds" -- has moved in and taken over.

As his grandfather's illness grows steadily worse, and his aunt keeps coming between them, Micah has only one hope. He has to find Circus Mirandus and its star magician, the Man Who Bends Light -- a magician who once promised his grandfather a miracle. Though Micah's aunt lashes out at any talk of magic, and his practical friend Jenny tries to convince him that stories of the circus are just fantasies, Micah knows his grandfather's future, and his own, depend on the stories being true.
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By Maria Dahvana Headley

MagoniaImagine having a disease so rare, so mystifying, that the doctors name it after you—a disease that makes you feel like you’re drowning in Earth’s air. That’s exactly how Aza Ray Boyle feels.

Aza is the heroine of Maria Dahvana Headley’s debut Young Adult Novel, “Magonia,” a blend of romance and fantasy. Headley, a novelist, memoirist, playwright, and winner of the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award for her short story “The Traditional,” creates a mystifying and topsy-turvy tale in “Magonia.”

At first glance "Magonia" feels similar to any number of other contemporary YA novels about sick girls: Bitingly sarcastic Aza has grown up in hospitals, and everyone expects her to drop dead at any moment. A few chapters in, a predictable romance develops between Aza and her best friend, Jason—but it’s interrupted as quickly as it begins.
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By Mary Weber

9781401690359On the mythical and magical island of Faelan, Nym is a slave girl, deemed worthless by society, overwhelmed by her own remarkable power. As an Elemental, she is one of the last surviving residents charged with magic. Plagued by guilt for the death of innocents slain by her unintentional power—the ability to conjure storms when she is angry—Nym’s journey is one of believable self-discovery and self-forgiveness.

Mary Weber’s debut novel, “Storm Siren,” not only establishes a fresh voice in CBA fiction, but also breaks barriers as a perfect example of the growing market for crossover fiction: fiction released by a religious publisher that is accessible to all, Christians and non-believers alike.
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