I've got three book recommendations for you. (BTW Gertie gives each of these books a solid 4.5 tail wags) I'm linking the books to an online bookseller so you can read the back cover copy and other reviews. But I'll give you my thoughts.
Lisa Wingate's The Story Keeper. Lisa Wingate's novels have become some of my favorites.
She has this cool story within a story thing that has presented itself in the three novels of hers that I've read... an unfolding mysterious story line within a story where a heroine needs to solve the mystery to enhance/change/find hope/healing etc in her life. Wingate writes as smooth as high quality chocolate and some of her paragraphs/scenes are as satisfying. In this particular novel, The Story Keeper, Wingate introduces us to Jen, a newly hired editor at a highly respected small publisher in New York. Jen has a secret past, though. One that is painful and haunts her at very inconvenient times. A file ends up on her desk and once she opens it her story begins unfurling and her carefully guarded past slops over into her present. One of my all time favorite books is Francine Rivers's The Last Sin Eater. Wingate's story within a story is set in the hills of Appalachia and the cadence and mysterious beliefs and language of the people of the hills reminded me of the beauty of Rivers's novel. If you love great writing and powerful stories, give this one a shot.
Next: Marvelous by Travis Thrasher.
Thrasher creates complex, living breathing characters and puts them in some pretty sticky situations. Brandon, the summer before his senior year, is working two jobs to repair/replace the car his friend borrowed and crashed. Marvella is a new, funky girl in town.
The two of them meet at the quirky record store where both need a job. Brandon had already snagged it, but inspired by instant attraction for Marvella, he interviews her and offers her the job. Brandon then has two jobs but only gets paid for one. But he receives another form of payment, time with Marvel and her friendship. And if the story was just that it'd be sweet and adorable, the end.
But that's not the story line.
Marvel is loaded with dark and twisty secrets that will rock Brandon's world as she shares them as their friendship grows. Brandon has a shameful secret of his own. And unsettling things are happening all around them. A former classmate is found in the river and it's not an accidental drowning, is there a serial killer living in their small town? Then Brandon ends up on half the football team's whuppin list when he stands up to a gang of bullies. Marvel finally reveals a piece of the puzzle to Brandon, that she is destined to save people and that destiny is galloping toward them.
Whew. This is a page turner. It could be too intense for younger teens because of the subject matter. However, those who love nitty gritty fiction should adore this one. The writing is tight enough to bounce a quarter off and Thrasher has come up with a page turner. I was so disappointed when Marvelous ended because I now have to wait for the other shoe to drop. Or shoes, there are four books in the series.
Prime of Life written by P. D. Bekendam.
This one was a huge surprise. Okay. Call me snotty, but my expectations weren't high. It's written by a doctor. (I work in medicine, and though my docs are brilliant and wonder and all that, the focus and dedication to medicine doesn't leave a lot of time for the focus and dedication required to write well, just saying.) My interest was piqued because a purchase = a donation to a terrific cause though. I put the novel in my purse and to read when I had wait times during my activities of daily living.
However, once I began reading the novel it became a must-finish-this-book-as-soon-as-possible read. The writing clips along nicely. The characters are quirky with a capital Q. Prime of Life is a charming read. Moments of deep or melancholy pepper the book along with loads of humor and sarcasm. The one caution I have is that there is a little bit of curmudgeonly humor that might offend more sensitive readers.