That’s (Not) Mine / by Anna Kang; illustrated by Christopher Weyant. 10.21.2016

Two Lions ISBN 9781477826393

PRI PS-Grade 2 Rating: 4

The two furry buddies from Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant’s earlier You Are (Not) Small return for a lesson in (not) sharing and friendship in That’s (Not) Mine.

This time the fuzzy pals argue over who gets to sit in a big yellow chair, each declaring, “It’s mine” and trying to outsmart the other. Just as their tug-of-war begins to get completely out of control, they find a solution: apologies and going off to play.

This sweet simple book has large vibrant pages and features minimal text in bold and varied fonts to grab a preschooler’s attention. Anna Kang writes witty dialog that is rhythmic and fun to read aloud. Ink and watercolor drawings by syndicated cartoonist Christopher Weyant stand out from a plain white background, drawing readers’ attention to the humorous facial expressions and wild gestures of the characters.

Any parent or teacher who has watched children squabble over a soon forgotten toy will relate. With a cute duo, lively illustrations, over-the-top silliness, and a relevant lesson about conflict, That’s (Not) Mine is likely to “own” a place among storytime favorites.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

Season of Fire / by Lisa T. Bergren. (Remnants, 2) 10.20.2016

Blink ISBN 9780310735656

HS (Adult) Grades 9-12 Rating: 4

Season of Fire is book two in the Remnants series by Lisa Bergren. A struggle for the hearts and minds of the world continues between the Ailith, who seek to lead people to the Maker, and the emperor, Keallach–a rogue Ailith–and his dark forces who seek control over the people. Andriana, an empath, is caught in the middle as she uses the gifting the Maker gave her to help others–even Keallach–to seek the Maker. However, forces stronger than her own have the potential to undermine her gift unless she remembers to fully rely on the Maker.

With the exception of life and death battles, the struggles encountered by the Ailith mirror the struggles of teens today. Learning to lean on God when life doesn’t make sense, what to do with romantic feelings and actions when the time is not right, how to determine God’s leading in life, how to know what’s next, how to lead others to Jesus, and how to handle negative feelings are all a part of the Maker’s journey for the Ailith. As Andriana and Ronan encounter situations that they can’t control, they continue to learn to lean on the Maker. The plot moves along quickly with the Ailith as they find themselves in perilous situations in which they must fight or flee. The point of view switches back and forth between Ronan and Andriana, sprinkling additional tension throughout the book. Tumultuous circumstances cause Andriana to repeat variations of this theme: “No matter how it feels…you are never alone…Remember that.” (p. 379)

Kristina Wolcott, CLJ

Earlier Series Title Reviewed by CLJ: Season of Wonder (November/December 2014).

I’ll Never Let You Go / Smriti Prasadam-Halls; illustrated by Alison Brown. 10.19.2016

Bloomsbury ISBN 9781619639225

PRI PS-Grade 1 Rating: 4

Children thrive under the reassuring care and support of unwavering love. In I’ll Never Let You Go, Smriti Prasadam-Hall uses a variety of old and young animal pairs to show how the older animal consistently is there to share in the younger counterpart’s good and bad times. From celebrating in the joyous occasions to patiently enduring the difficult moments to comforting through the sadness, the book culminates with the reassuring message that the older one will always be there no matter the circumstance with the unconditional love, care, and support the younger one needs.

The tender, soothing message told in short rhyming verse and accompanied by full-length, double-page illustrations makes this an excellent bedtime story. Alison Brown’s charming illustrations support and enhance the text by depicting characters and situations that bring to life the emotions being described on each page. The book does not specify whether the older animal depicted is the younger animal’s parent, allowing the message to transcend to a variety of caregiver-type relationships. This book is also a great tool for teaching young ones about empathy, modeling such praise-worthy qualities as celebrating the joys of another.

Justina McBride, CLJ

Prayers that Changed History / by Tricia Goyer. 10.18.2016

Zonderkidz ISBN 9780310748014

INT Grades 3-7 Rating: 5

In Prayers that Changed History, Tricia Goyer introduces 25 historical figures and the significant role of prayer in their lives.

Each concise chapter presents a notable individual whose prayers for strength and guidance had far-reaching consequences. Arranged chronologically, the characters span a wide swath of history from the first century (Polycarp) to the twentieth (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) and include the familiar (Christopher Columbus, Florence Nightingale, Helen Keller) as well as the lesser-known (Robert Raikes, George Müller, Billy Sunday). The British people of WWII are recognized collectively.

Author Tricia Goyer employs a narrative style with imagined dialogue that is likely to hold the interest and attention of independent readers. Her intent to show “prayer-at-work” is achieved through these compelling biographic profiles, biblical parallels, and referenced sources. “Something to Think About” and “Your Life” headings direct readers to reflect, discuss, and relate personally to the power of prayer.

Though suggested for a grade and middle school audience, Prayers that Changed History would be a compelling and enjoyable book for all ages, particularly history enthusiasts. Some of the chapters include more mature themes such as the suicide of Adolf Hitler, Nazi death camps, the “red light” district of Chicago, and the enslavement of young girls in India.

Small photos, graphics, and text boxes, use of varied font, and an easy-to-follow table of contents adds to the pleasant readability of this enlightening book.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

The Sea Keeper’s Daughters / by Lisa Wingate. (Carolina Heirlooms) 10.17.2016

Tyndale ISBN 9781414386904

Adult Rating: 5

Award-winning author Lisa Wingate returns with the third installment in the Carolina series.

In The Sea Keeper’s Daughter, restaurant owner Whitney Monroe tries to save her Michigan restaurant from the “good old boys” trying to drive her out of town by blocking her renovations. At the same time, she is trying to deal with an aging hotel on North Carolina’s Outer Banks that she inherited, as well as dealing with the welfare of her estranged stepfather.

Whitney still resents her stepfather Clyde’s marriage to her now-deceased mother. Sharing the hotel with him and hoping to find some sources of cash as she sorts through family heirlooms, Whitney uncovers an old necklace, a Depression-era love story, and a mystery that will change everything.

The Sea Keeper’s Daughter, a 2016 Christy Award Winner (contemporary), is filled with memorable characters and descriptive settings in North Carolina (Blue Ridge Mountains and the Outer Banks). Wingate continues her trademark of telling two stories at the same time–one from the past, one from the present–tied together by the main character. Wingate blends two stories masterfully into a dark family history filled with drama and plot twists. The first is revealed in old letters Whitney finds, where she discovers a tie between her grandmother and Roosevelt’s WPA folklore writers. The second story features Whitney’s restaurant troubles and what she plans to do with the hotel she inherited.

Faith is an integral element in this multilayered story within a story, as are the details of the history of the Appalachian Mountains and its peoples. Wingate does an excellent job in character development.

Carol R. Gehringer, CLJ

Earlier Series Titles Reviewed by CLJ: The Prayer Box (October/November 2013); The Story Keeper (January/February 2016).

Without Warning / by Lynette Eason. (Elite Guardians, 2) 10.14.2016

Revell ISBN 9780800723255

Adult Rating: 4

Bestselling author Lynette Eason continues her romantic suspense series featuring a female-owned agency of female bodyguards.

In Without Warning, Katie Singleton teaches self-defense to Daniel Matthew’s teenage niece, Riley. When she is driving by a favorite restaurant, she notices police cars and stops to see what is happening. Arson is suspected, and then the murder of a former employee is discovered. Is the restaurant owner Daniel at fault or is someone framing him for the events happening at his restaurants? Riley hires Katie to investigate who is behind the threats and the attack on him. Who is behind the attacks and why? Can they figure it out before someone else is killed?

As always, Eason is a superb storyteller, weaving plot twists with her development of complex characters. The action is fast-paced, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat (and turning the pages!) until the very end. The clean romance develops at a realistic pace, and faith elements are present but not overpowering. Issues such as PTSD and questioning one’s faith are expressed. Violence in the story is appropriate and not too graphic. The identity and motive of the “villain” will surprise the reader. Every time one thinks it is figured out, Eason throws in another twist.

The Elite Guardian series varies slightly from other romantic suspense novels because the covers feature a woman carrying a gun. Although part of a series, each book can be read as a standalone novel; each book focuses on a different member of the Elite Guardians Protection Agency. Moving Target (book 3) is due January 2017.

Eason’s newest series will interest fans of DiAnn Mills, Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Irene Hannon. Recommended for adult collections in public libraries.

Carol R. Gehringer,

Earlier Series Title Reviewed by CLJ: Always Watching (March/April/May/June 2016).

Close to You / by Kara Isaac. 10.13.2016

Howard Books ISBN 9781501117329

Adult Rating: 5

Kara Isaac makes her debut with this contemporary romance featuring a disgraced scholar and an entrepreneur on a tour of New Zealand.

In Close to You, Allison Shire is running from her past when she meets Jackson Gregory on a tour of Tolkien movie sites in New Zealand. Allison decides she is done with love–she recently discovered her husband was married to someone else while she was married to him! Meanwhile, Jackson’s girlfriend stole his company secrets and jilted him. Accompanying his great-uncle on the three-week Tolkien tour, he pretends to be a Tolkien fan, trying to convince his great-uncle to invest in his next scheme. Drawn to each other despite their initial dislike of one another, can they get past their past hurts and find true love?

Isaac pens a humorous Christian romance with endearing characters. One reads so many books with Austen themes that it is refreshing to find an author who uses another great English writer–J. R. R. Tolkien. Even if one is not a Lord of the Rings fan, the descriptive narration, the beautiful setting in New Zealand, and the plausible plot make this novel an enjoyable read.

The themes of second chances (hope and love) underpin the story. The premise of two flawed main characters who are trying to move on after betrayals is noteworthy. Isaac weaves in enough backstory for non-Tolkien fans to follow as they go on the tour with Jackson and Allison. The faith element is light but present. Overall, Close to You is an excellent novel by a promising new author. Her second novel Can’t Help Falling is due in Fall 2016.

Recommended for adult collections in public libraries and school libraries, it is a clean read for adults and older teen readers, as well as for Tolkien fans.

Carol R. Gehringer,

Adventure Bible / by Zonderkidz, with features written by Lawrence O. Richards. 10.12.2016

Adventure Bible NIV / by Zonderkidz, with features written by Lawrence O. Richards.

Zonderkidz ISBN 9780310739272

INT Grades 4-7 Rating: 4

Adventure Bible for Early Readers NIrV / by Zonderkidz, with features written by Lawrence O. Richards.

Zonderkidz ISBN 9780310727422

PRI Grades 1-5 Rating: 4

The Adventure Bible NIV and Adventure Bible for Early Readers NIrV are complete Bibles from Zonderkidz, with numerous educational features and illustrations for children.

Both books offer the full text of the Bible (New International Version) along with teaching sidebars such as: “Words to Treasure”, “Did You Know?”, “Life in Bible Times”, “People in Bible Times”, and “Live It!”. A Subject Index, Dictionary/Concordance, and Maps offer added useful tools.

The Adventure Bible NIV is suggested for 9-12 year olds. Indented thumb tabs and a “How to Use This Bible” introduction will help young readers get started on their exploration of God’s word. The Adventure Bible for Early Readers NIrV is the New International Reader’s Version with slight modifications in the reading level to accommodate the intended audience of 6-10 year olds.

These handsome hardcover books are brightly illustrated with eye-catching drawings and graphics, and there are so many features to keep children engaged that either book is likely to be thoroughly perused and revisited. However, the pages are quite thin and will require careful handling by eager fingers.

As with any full Bible, in the context of Scripture there is frank mention of drunkenness, nudity, and sex that parents may not expect to see in a children’s edition, particularly the NIrV.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

The Steadfast Love Series / by Rachelle Rea. 10.11.2016


The Sound of Diamonds / by Rachelle Rea. (The Steadfast Love Series, 1)

WhiteFire Publishing     ISBN 9781939023599

The Sound of Silver / by Rachelle Rea. (The Steadfast Love Series, 2)

WhiteFire Publishing     ISBN 9781939023612

The Sound of Emeralds / by Rachelle Rea. (The Steadfast Love Series, 3)

WhiteFire Publishing     ISBN 9781939023636

HS Grades 8-12     Rating: 4

Rachelle Rea makes her debut with a medieval young adult series about a Catholic maiden and a Protestant former rogue in the midst of the 16th century Protestant-Catholic conflict.

In The Sound of Silver, Gwyneth, an eighteen-year-old Catholic woman, hides in a Dutch convent after the murder of her parents in England. Suddenly one night, Dirk–the man she accused of their murder–breaks into her convent to abduct her. In truth, he is trying to rescue her from the imminent attacks on the Catholics in the area. Can she trust this Protestant rogue, even when he says he has reformed? Can she afford not to?

In The Sound of Silver, Dirk and Gwyneth discover her parents’ murderer and the reason behind their murders. Mindful of his ruined reputation and its impact on Gwyn’s reputation, Dirk leaves her in the care of his mother and rides away. Meanwhile, Gwyn enlists the aid of an old friend to try to clear Dirk’s name, but what is her friend’s motive for helping her? How will Gwyn and Dirk have a future together unless he is declared innocent and his honor is restored?

In The Sound of Emeralds, the story of Dirk and Gwyneth continues in 16th century Europe where the tension between Catholics and Protestants blazes. What started as hatred between them eventually evolves into lasting love. But happy endings are not guaranteed. As Dirk struggles to clear his name before he faces deadly consequences, Gwyn finds out that he has kept secrets from her. Will a friend from her past be an ally or an enemy to clearing Dirk’s name?

Rea has a knack for penning a storyline that is as unique as the main characters she creates. How many heroines need glasses, especially in historical fiction? Her book is carefully researched and grabs the reader’s attention from the first page. The series is filled with plenty of plot twists.

Written in alternating first-person point-of-view, the reader feels right in the middle of the action. Gwyneth and Dirk develop a relationship as they depend on one another in trying circumstances. Faith elements are interwoven and integral to the plot. The Sound of Emeralds presents God’s peace, in the same way the earlier books had the themes of hope and truth. Rea carefully balances the Catholic and Protestant faith without being overly critical of either. She creates flawed individuals in a troubled time in church history.

Recommended for teen collections in school and public libraries. Fans of Melanie Dickerson, Lisa Bergren, and Jody Hedlund (authors of young adult medieval fiction) will enjoy this new author’s works.

Carol R. Gehringer,


Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation / by Peggy Thomas; illustrated by Stacy Innerst. 10.10.2016

Calkins Creek ISBN 9781620916285

MS Grades 3-6 Rating: 5

This picture book for grades 3 to 6 has more text than usual, but the careful storyline helps students to delve into the diverse person that was Jefferson. The text in Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation is thoroughly researched with solid source notes for each quotation. Historical details and illustrations blend well together. Middle schoolers will learn vocabulary since many words are defined within the context of the sentences.

Author Peggy Thomas provides an introduction, chapters with full-page sidebars, historical photos, place to visit (Monticello), a bibliography, and timelines. Illustrator Stacy Innerst used a quill to hand letter the quotes that appear throughout the book and added a touch of Jefferson’s distinctive red hair color in the shades on most pages.

In addition to gaining an appreciation for the accomplishments of Jefferson, the reader will come to see that in his heart, Jefferson was a farmer, a fact not often available in the usual stories about him. Many of the phrases used throughout the story are ones from agriculture–growth, weeds, planting, nurture, uprooted–and confirm Jefferson was more than a president and a patriot.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ