Saving My Assassin / by Virginia Prodan. 1.20.2017

Tyndale House Publishers ISBN 9781496411846

Adult Rating: 5

It’s hard to believe that an 87- pound woman, just under five feet tall, could stand up to those intent on murdering her, but with God that is just what happened! As the author herself states, “I should be dead. Buried in an unmarked grave in Romania. Obviously, I am not. God had other plans.”

Saving My Assassin is Prodan’s memoir of her life in Romania from early childhood through her time as an attorney, fighting for truth and defying the “powers that be” in their evil regime. When she became a Christian as a young woman, she felt the calling to defend other believers and churches in direct disobedience to the government. She sought the truth in following her Lord. This was treason in the eyes of this régime under the rule of Ceausescu, and for her disobedience she was kidnapped, tortured, and beaten as well as placed under house arrest with her two young daughters.

Prodan’s writing is very simple yet profound as she shares her life experiences and the many ways that God answered prayer and kept her and her family safe. She also tells of a less-than-ideal childhood and of those who helped her escape and become a lawyer.

American Christians particularly should read this unforgettable account of Virgina Prodan’s life and God’s continued protection.

Ceil Carey, CLJ

Wild Montana Skies / by Susan May Warren. (Montana Rescue, Book 1) 1.19.2017

Revell ISBN 9780800727437

Adult     Rating: 5

Susan May Warren kicks off her new contemporary romance series, set in Montana and featuring park rescue professionals living in a close-knit community.

In Wild Montana Skies, Kacey Fairing moves to Mercy Falls, Montana to rebuild her life after her recent tour in Afghanistan. She is hired as the PEAK Rescue pilot for Glacier National Park. She also wants to spend time with her teenage daughter who has been cared for by her parents while she was deployed.

Country music star Ben King comes home after his father is injured. He is there to manage PEAK Rescue during his father’s recovery. Ben and Kacey were teenage sweethearts until Ben moved to Nashville to pursue his dream. Ben doesn’t know Kacey’s secret: Ben has a daughter he has never met. Now they have to work together to save lives. Will they find a happy ending in spite of old secrets and hurts they uncover?

Warren writes character-driven, contemporary books that are a blend of action and romance, as well as emotional and spiritual challenges. The faith element is evident but not preachy. More than romances, these are stories of flawed individuals with very messy lives and life-changing mistakes. God teaches them about forgiveness of others and themselves. Warren uses these imperfect lives to teach the reader about God’s gift of grace, and the strength it takes to live a life of faith and accept the second chance He offers. Readers can follow the characters introduced in Wild Montana Skies in subsequent books. Rescue Me (Book 2) is due in late January 2017.

Recommended for public libraries and church libraries.

Carol R. Gehringer, CLJ

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest / A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue / by J.A. Myhre. 1.18.2017

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest / by J.A. Myhre.
New Leaf Press     ISBN 9781942572084
INT     Grades 3-7     Rating: 4

A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue / by J.A. Myhre.
New Leaf Press     ISBN 9781942572695
INT     Grades 3-7     Rating: 3

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest tells the story of Mu, an orphaned school boy who is the laughingstock of his village because his uncle makes him do “girl’s work.” On his way to do a morning chore, he meets a talking chameleon. This creature tells Mu that his quest soon will begin and he will be free. When Mu is sold by his guardians, he must rely on his animal guide to lead him away from the dangers of the forest, animals, rebels, and himself. When the chameleon whispers truth in Mu’s ear, he must relinquish his plan to find the life he’s always dreamed about.

Kiisa grew up hearing the fantastic tale of her brother’s return to their family. In A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue, Kiisa has her own animal-guided adventure. When she is sent to boarding school at a young age, her father hides a talking bird in her suitcase. The bird flies out of her suitcase and makes Kiisa the joke of the school. Kiisa tries to blend into the crowd, but when rebels come to the compound and kidnap a classmate, Kiisa believes she must charge into danger to save the girl who bullied her. Can she set aside her animosity, survive the jungle, and make it home to her family?

J. A. Myhre’s chapter books hold wonderful folklore-like adventures. Detailed plot sketches and descriptions of the landscapes allow elementary readers’ imaginations to run wild through the African forests and plains. With natural and supernatural danger leaving cliff hangers at the end of every chapter, children will be flipping pages until the end.

Delve into African (Luwendigo) dialect, culture, and legends with these tales. Throughout these stories, readers also will see reflections of biblical stories, such as the prodigal son, Joseph’s coat of many colors, and Jesus’ sacrifice. Dark presences of violence, death, and sin weave into these stories, but the animal guides help characters and readers learn biblical and moral lessons in spite of the evil forces.

Rebecca Schriner, CLJ

My Little Picture Bible / by Juliet David; illustrated by Elina Ellis. 1.17.2017

Lion Hudson ISBN 9781781281765

PRI PS-K Rating: *5

My Little Picture Bible is a collection of 56 New and Old Testament events retold by Juliet David in a simple format for the very young.

The familiar stories vary in length from one to ten pages and are accompanied by the gentle drawings of Elina Ellis. The book’s small sturdy size and bright illustrations are well suited to preschoolers, yet the content and presentation will appeal to older children as well. A list of contents will help early readers quickly find their favorites.

My Little Picture Bible would be a wonderful spiritual gift (and in fact has a page for inscribing). The stories are satisfyingly complete for such a small book and the sweet quality of the artwork makes the characters and events relatable to children.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Thirteenth Amendment / by B. J. Best. 1.16.2017

Cavendish Square ISBN 9781502605306

MS Grades 4-7 Rating: 5

This discussion book, for grades 4 to 7, uses primary source documents to highlight the issues integral to the place of slavery in the United States. Though Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Thirteenth Amendment looks at the process of officially ending slavery with the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, students get a feel for who Lincoln was as a leader and his role in ending slavery. Chapter Four, highlighting Lincoln’s legacy, gives positive momentum to consider how the nation needed to heal and rebuild after the Civil War and how this was accomplished through the Reconstruction.

A Chronology, Glossary, Further Information and Bibliography, and an Index provide outlines to help the reader grasp the significance of the fight for emancipation and the reaction of various parties relating to the meaning and progress of the abolition of slavery.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ

 

 

 

Anchor in the Storm / by Sarah Sundin. (Waves of Freedom series, 2) 1.13.2017

Revell ISBN 9780800723439

Adult (HS) Rating: 5

Anchor in the Storm finds the United States involved in WWII. Lillian Avery leaves her Illinois home to accept a job as a pharmacist in Boston, Massachusetts, where her brother and his best friend Arch Vandenberg are stationed. Though Arch has expressed interest in Lillian, Lillian doesn’t seem to return his feelings. However, when both Lillian and Arch need answers about some questionable prescriptions, they find themselves working together to solve a mystery. In the process, danger threatens their lives, and the only way they can survive is by learning the truth of Hebrews 6:18-19, “…We might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast…” (p.66)

Sarah Sundin’s second book in the Waves of Freedom series is just as intriguing as the first. The plot moves quickly, part romance and part mystery. Arch and Lillian are well-developed, three-dimensional characters, learning to grow through their brokenness. Lillian’s determined mindset and plucky spirit set an intense mood as the story unfolds. Sundin’s portrayal of the places Arch and Lillian live and work as well as the activities in which they engage recreate a little slice of Boston during WWII. The theme is best summed up by Lillian’s father, “Jesus is your anchor, your hope in any storm, your sure refuge.” (p. 28)

Kristina Wolcott, CLJ

Reading the Sermon on the Mount with John Stott / by John Stott with Douglas Connelly. 1.12.2017

InterVarsity Press ISBN 9780830831913

Adult Rating: 5

John Stott (1921-2011) was a leader among evangelicals and is known for his preaching and communicating of Scripture. Reading the Sermon on the Mount with John Stott offers excerpts from Stott’s The Message of the Sermon on the Mount in brief readings, concise enough for daily digestion. The readings avoid technicalities and scholarly debate, with each reading emphasizing the substance, significance, and application of the text. Following each set of six readings is a discussion guide for use by individuals or study groups.

Stott makes clear that the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus holding up standards as principles of kingdom living. He also notes the goals of the Sermon are only attainable by those who have experienced the new birth and who have access to the Holy Spirit’s enabling power. The easy-to-hold size (5×7”) and short readings make it practical to really use as a daily tool.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ

I Spy Bible / by Julia Stone; illustrated by Samantha Meredith. 1.11.2017

Lion Children’s Books ISBN 9780745965550

PRI Toddler-K Rating: 4

I Spy Bible is an interactive “seek and find” board book with scenes from 11 biblical events.

From Adam and Eve to the Resurrection, the colorful pages include brief text by Julia Stone and cute illustrations by Samantha Meredith. A “Can you spot” sidebar on each two-page spread shows six objects for readers to find in the picture.

This sturdy padded book with its very simplistic stories and fairly easy-to-spy challenges seems ideal for the very young. (A notation on the back cover deems it “not suitable for children under 12 months, but presumably the book can be safely managed with a caregiver!) I Spy Bible would be a fun way to introduce toddlers to Bible stories along with some expanded vocabulary words (“skittles”, “vulture”, “jackal”).

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

Season of Glory / by Lisa T. Bergren. (Remnants Series, 3) 1.10.2017

Blink ISBN 9780310735663

HS Grades 9 and up Rating: 4

Season of Glory, book three in the Remnants series, finds the Ailith remnant together again following a narrow escape from Pacifica. As they progress across the land, the Ailith show more maturity in following the Maker and in using the gifts He has given them to serve. Increasingly people follow the Way, and hope for peace is on the horizon for the Ailith and all the land. It’s a good thing the Ailith have more support and wisdom, because the enemy seems stronger than ever. Keallach, emperor of Pacifica, is the one Ailith who never received his full gifting from the Maker because of the dark paths he has followed. When he attempts to join his brother, Andriana, and the other Ailith, proper wisdom and discernment of his motives could determine the success or failure of the mission.

Lisa T. Bergren’s writing opens doors into her characters’ world and thoughts. Told from three points of view, Season of Glory shows the progression of Keallach’s thinking and struggles throughout the book, without divulging whether or not his motives for following the other Ailith are pure. Ronan and Andriana also have their battles to face, but much of their personal growth occurred in the first two books of the Remnants series, making them perhaps less interesting in Season of Glory. The plot is well-paced, with high drama action scenes followed by reaction scenes filled with narrow escapes, followed by periods of rest or serving or learning. Romance continues to bloom in Season of Glory, but what seems secure may be undone by the forces of darkness.

The best part of all three books is the wisdom Lisa T. Bergren infuses into the story. As the Ailith prepare for their most dangerous battle, their leader Raniero gives this wise counsel, “Do not let your gift lead you–let the Maker lead you. Call upon him constantly. Put him first, not yourselves. We will stay together whatever comes, because together, we are strongest.” (p. 339)

Kristina Wolcott, CLJ

Earlier Series Title Reviewed by CLJSeason of Wonder (November/December 2014); Season of Fire (July/August/September 2016).

The Young Adult’s Guide to Stop Bullying: Understanding Bullies and Their Actions / by Rebekah Sack. 1.9.2017

Atlantic Publishing Group ISBN 9781601389886

HS Grades 9-12 Rating: 5

The Young Adult’s Guide to Stop Bullying is geared to junior and high school students and offers discussion to enable one to learn why bullying occurs and explore the root causes for bullying, why some students are victimized, and why others are vicious. The range of bullying covered includes cyberbullying, phone or note bullying, gang bullying, teacher bullying, and sports bullying.

The layout is appealing with photos, illustrations, and layout easy on the eye. Part I is titled “You’re Being Bullied,” Part II ”You See Bullying,” and Part III “You’re a Bully.” The easy-to-follow and understanding discussion warrants The Young Adult’s Guide to Stop Bullying a place in every school and public library. One can concentrate on one part or chapter within a section and gain from that even if other parts or chapters are not considered in that setting or project.

Appendix A offers bullying statistics, Appendix B “A Checklist for Your School,” Appendix C “A Student’s Anti-Bullying Pledge,” and Appendix D “Bullying Laws.” There’s a section of helpful references, a glossary, and an index. A chapter in Part I is devoted to celebrity case studies, and Parts II and III each have a chapter on famous case studies.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ