The Youth Speak News team have put together a list of faith-based youth titles that we think young booklovers might enjoy for summer reading. Graphic by David Chen

YSN Reads: 2016 Summer Reading List (Part 2)

  • July 7, 2016

The Catholic Register and the Youth Speak News team have put together a list of faith-based youth titles that we think young booklovers might enjoy for their summer reading. In the second instalment of the series, we feature some action-packed reads alongside unique resource companions for a young reader’s journey in faith.

Always Watching webAlways Watching by Lynette Eason (Revell, 336 pages, $14.99)

By Julia Swist

Threats. Bombs. Deaths. The popular radio personality and psychiatrist Wade Savage’s life starts to spin out of control when a stalker comes bearing gifts. The stalker wants him and won’t take no for an answer.

If you’re into romance suspense novels, this is definitely the book to read. The fast-paced action will send shivers down your spine and have you wanting more. Always Watching by Lynette Eason tells the story of Olivia Edwards, the owner of the Elite Guardians Bodyguard Agency who is hired by Wade Savage’s father to protect him. 

Unlike most protection cases she has worked on, this one forces Olivia to question everything and face her past, from her acceptance of her parents’ deaths to her foster childhood to her belief in God. It forces her to face the emotional scars that never healed and reach out to God after shutting Him out for so long. 

From beginning to end, Eason’s  words keep you eager to keep turning the pages. With surprises and unexpected twists, Eason easily captures your attention into the web of a plot she expertly spins. 

This novel is beyond relatable. There are people coming from all walks of life facing the same question of faith. The poor. The rich. The lonely. The lost. Eason effortlessly highlights the fact that God has a plan for each one of us. No matter how twisted or incomprehensible it may seem at first.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves female heroes that are strong and empowering, but also very human.

The Shock of Night web

The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr (Bethany House, 464 pages, $15.99)

By Robert Adragna

A great evil is rising in the Kingdom of Collum, mysteriously murdering innocents and plotting to overthrow government. At the same time, nobleman Wilet Dura receives a strange gift from a dying man, the ability to see into the minds of others. He must join forces with a clandestine group of secret guardians in order to stop the Darkwater before it is too late.

The Shock of Night is the first instalment of The Darkwater Saga book series. This novel is an exhilarating thriller, filled with unexpected twists and turns that will leave you hurriedly turning pages. 

While I admired the novel’s masterful suspense, I sometimes found the story was supported by a weak set of characters that possessed little personality beyond their archetypal image.

While not an explicitly Catholic novel, the people of Collum worship a similar monotheistic faith that has separated into four orders. There are lessons to be learned from the characters’ devotion to the service of God through helping others and their faith in His guiding hand during challenging times. 

Moreover, the eventual uniting of all four churches against a common threat is an eloquent allegory for the duty of Catholics to ecumenically stand with people from all faiths against evil in our world. 

I would definitely recommend The Shock of Night as a lazy Saturday afternoon read for all those who enjoy a good action novel.

I am Margaret webI Am Margaret by Corinna Turner (Chesterton Press, 314 pages, $20)

By Melanie Lamarca

Death by religion? A world of underground ‘Believers’? 

I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner takes a delightful spin on the dystopian-fantasy genre that not only intertwines a love story between main characters, but tells a story of His everlasting love. 

The story is set in the future, where religions are banned and children are sorted into jobs where they are deemed the most ‘useful’. 

Despite the premise being very different from the world we inhabit, I would argue that I Am Margaret was a lens by which I could better understand myself. The novel has great lessons about Christian identity, standing up for what you believe in, self-discovery and personal resilience.

The beauty of I Am Margaret  is how Turner tackles Christian themes with a contemporary twist, allowing readers both young and old to remain enraptured in the novel’s thrill-seeking ride, while better understanding themselves in relation to their faith. 

What drew me deeper and deeper into I Am Margaret  were how real the characters felt and how much I cared about the brewing conflict. Turner managed to capture the raw emotion of her characters in a way that made them feel very true to life, capturing perfectly what it means to believe in God in the eyes of a teenager. 

With that said, Turner’s I Am Margaret was a thought-provoking read that left me with as many questions as it did answers, as well as a romance that kept me on the edge of my seat.

City of Saints webCity of Saints: A Pilgrimage to John Paul II’s Krakow by George Weigel with Carrie Gress and Stephen Weigel (Image Catholic Books, 336 pages, $20)

By Jean Ko Din

In anticipation of World Youth Day at Krakow, I decided to pick up this book to get to know the city that helped groom one of the greatest saints of our time.

New York Times bestselling author George Weigel, with Carrie Gress and Stephen Weigel, takes the reader through Krakow and its surrounding landmarks. Reading through each chapter is like having your own guided tour through the streets and the hallways that Pope St. John Paul II walked. 

The book begins in the small town streets of Wadowice where a young Karol Wotyla and his family grew up. Then Weigel takes the reader through the hallways of Jagiellonian University, Wotyla’s alma mater and where he later taught as an ethics professor. Weigel highlights key sites in Krakow during the Second World War where young Wotyla studied for the priesthood in secret. Readers tour through St. Florian’s Church where Fr. Wotyla worked as young vicar and Kanonicza Street where he lived as bishop and cardinal.

The book’s narrative integrates the profile of a beloved saint with the profile of a homeland he so beloved. Krakow and Poland, in general, are rich with Catholic history. It is no wonder so many saints have come from within its borders. 

This book is a great companion for this year’s World Youth Day experience, especially for pilgrims who will be seeing these sites in person. The history in these pages will become a valuable resource.

Ask the Bible Geek webAsk the Bible Geek by Mark Hart (Servant Books, 2nd edition, 176 pages, $14.99)

By Steven Travale

The acclaimed “Bible geek” Mark Hart penned a fantastic Q&A book for young Catholics that makes for the perfect summer read. The book contains dozens of questions that young people have been wanting to ask with answers that are well explained and easy to understand. 

The all-encompassing book answers questions ranging from Church rituals, like “Why do we genuflect?” and sometimes profoundly spiritual questions, like “If God is so loving, why do we suffer?”

 Each entry fittingly begins and ends with a quote from Scripture, which reminds readers that the Holy Book contains answers for all our life questions. Hart explains using biblical reference, humour and anecdotes which make it both useful and enjoyable.

Another fantastic benefit is its usefulness in evangelization and reflection. I read the book casually on a trip to Latin America and was able to have lengthy discussions over its contents with another Christian. 

My friend is not Catholic and didn’t understand the concept of Confession. Of course, Hart has an answer for the question and it prompted for us a great discussion and caused me to reflect further on this sacrament.

In entries that top out at just two pages, Hart manages to share Biblical wisdom and provide satisfying (and truthful) answers to the vast range of questions that young Catholics have. Recommended for weekends at the cottage, long car rides, on quiet evenings this summer.

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