About the Book
Author: BJ Howe
Genre: Teen/YA Action Adventure
Release date: March 14, 2023
When the biggest bully in town has you in his crosshairs, you can run, or you can dig deep inside and discover who you really are. Steven Carlson finds himself saddled with an unexpected debt he cannot afford, changing his plans for a summer of fun to one that forces him to places he never wanted to go.
There are storms on the horizon and equally daunting storms of the heart. With a father he doesn’t understand and a mother he can’t remember, Steven’s sixteenth year launches him on a journey that will forever alter his world.
In one unforgettable season, Steven Carlson is pushed to the edge of disaster and forced to confront his prison of self-doubt.
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What a difference a summer can make in a teen's life. Early in the summer the two main characters, Steven and Jackson, do some antics that get them in trouble. We wonder if they will ever become responsible young men. I like that the boys are made to work on a farm. That is a good opportunity for learning responsibility.
Howe explores several issues in this novel for young readers. One topic explored was how kids learn responsibility. Is it through restrictions or through repeated chances to learn? Another topic was what makes kids happy and well adjusted. A secondary character came from a wealthy family but was a bully and had no friends. Money and emotionally distant parents was not good for him and his developing character.
This is a quick read for young people with lessons on being responsible and finding out that helping others is really how one feels good. It would especially appeal to those interested in cars. There is a subtle faith message included.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
About the Author
Stormy Encounters is her first significant work of fiction. Writing about teenage boys and lightning fast cars was inspired by her grandson, who at age four attempted to drive her car, and at age ten reminded her that he was a mere five years away from a driving permit. He is now entering his teen years.
Howe resides in Chanhassen MN with husband, Dave Howe, author of Live Pure and Free: The 90-Day Game Changer. She is on staff with Christian Grandparenting Network, and has contributed to several publications including: Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and Guideposts. Her desire in writing this book is to encourage young adults to mature in their integrity and pursue a personal relationship with Christ.
More from Barb
Getting through those teenage years is an adventure. Ask anyone who’s been there. The challenges are real, the outcomes, let’s just say unpredictable. Today’s young generation seems to have more than a fair share of confusing messages roaring at them, and far more outlets than any previous generation to access them. This can make the journey to adulthood far more daunting.
Too many of the books found at public libraries and book stores carry dark messages with little hope. Stormy Encounters is about smokin’ hot cars, swaggering bravado, and, of course, girls. You know, the things that get young guys’ engines revving in high gear. This approach cruises into their world and shows how to work through difficulties without getting preachy. That’s the kind of thinking that first enticed Howe to speak to teens through fiction.
Face it. No matter who we are, we all share at least one thing in common: every day we make hundreds of choices. Some of those choices affect the rest of our lives. Stormy Encounters is all about helping teens, especially teen boys, make the kinds of choices that bring positive results. The pace is fast enough to be exciting, steady to drive interest. Don’t worry; it’s all clean. Maybe these are the reasons teen girls and adults also enjoy reading Stormy Encounters.
Howe’s writing career began with corporate and freelance writing. But it was the nuances of memoir writing that led to fiction. They’re both centered around human interactions. With Stormy Encounters, readers get to see how three different generations come together with all their individual quirks in one complex story that explores the emotions of grief, happiness, love, sadness, and hope. We can all use a big dose of hope.
When not writing, Howe enjoys urban hiking (a.k.a., neighborhood walks), bicycling through the countryside, and baking bread. Try this wild rice bread recipe. It positively screams Minnesota, the state where Stormy Encounters takes place.
Minnesota Wild Rice Bread
¼ cup wild rice, raw
2 cups water
1 package dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
2 cups milk, scalded
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup rolled oats, uncooked
½ cup rye flour
1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
½ cup bran
3-1/2 cups unbleached flour, plus up to 1 cup (if needed)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
¼ cup hulled sunflower seeds
1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add rice, cover, and cook over very low heat until rice is tender, approx. 45-60 minutes. Allow to cool.
2. Stir yeast into 1/3 cup warm water and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in milk, butter, honey, salt, and oats. Add cooled rice mixture to milk mixture.
3. Using a wooden spoon, stir together rye flower, whole-wheat flour, bran, and 3-1/2 cups of unbleached flour. Add to milk and yeast mixture, stirring until soft dough forms. Add more unbleached flour, as needed, until dough is easy to handle.
4. Turn dough onto a floured board and knead until soft and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl and turn so the top is oiled. Let rise 2 hours.
5. Punch dough and shape into two loaves. Place in 2 greased 9-1/2 x 5-1/2-inch pans. Let rise again, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
6. Bake 45 minutes. During the last 15 minutes of baking, brush loaves with 1 beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water and sprinkle with sunflower seeds.
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(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)