With Love, Wherever You Are / by Dandi Daley Mackall. 10.30.2018

Tyndale ISBN 9781496421227

Adult Rating: 5

Helen Eberhart has her future all planned out: finish nurse’s training and get a job in the city and see the world. Love and war were not a part of that plan. Intern doctor Frank Daley has no desire for a career in the military; however, when Pearl Harbor is attacked, Frank has little choice but to sign up for deferment rather than risk being drafted and unable to finish his residency. Surely this war will be over before he graduates.

As the war drags on, Helen and Frank find themselves enlisted in the military, awaiting shipment overseas. While waiting on transfer orders, their paths cross at Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan and love quickly grows, leading to a swift marriage before they are both sent to different parts of Europe.

Amid the grim brutality of war and separation, Helen and Frank rely on their letters to sustain them through the hardships and heartaches they each endure. Will their young love prove strong enough to survive the fiery destruction of war or will it burn to ashes before it ever has a chance to deepen?

Dandi Daley Mackall’s With Love, Wherever You Are is an inspiring World War II romance novel based on the true love story of the author’s own parents. Her personal insight gleaned through her parents’ letters and stories lends a poignant authenticity and heart to this novel that sets it uniquely apart from others of its genre. That this story has a factual basis also adds to the suspense of the plot as readers cannot wait to find out how Frank and Helen’s story will end.

The narrative is told from the alternating perspectives of Helen and Frank. Their letters, dispersed throughout, bridge the gap between their separate experiences and show how their relationship grows. The primary theme is that true love is strong enough to survive the test of time and distance. This novel is more than a romance novel; it is a story of heroism and sacrifice that honors the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country.

Justina McBride, CLJ

Imagine series / by Matt Koceich. 10.29.2018

Imagine: The Great Flood / by Matt Koceich.

Barbour ISBN 9781683221296

Imagine: The Ten Plagues / by Matt Koceich.

Barbour ISBN 9781683223801

INT Grades 3-6 Rating: 4

Matt Koceich creates a new adventure series for readers that will capture their imagination as they experience the biblical events in these books.

In The Great Flood, Corey Max’s family is planning a move across the country, but 10-year-old Corey is not looking forward to it. While chasing his dog into the woods, Corey falls. Suddenly, life as he knows it–disappears. When he awakes, Corey is back in ancient Mesopotamia, just before the flood takes place. Corey experiences the story of Noah’s ark firsthand, including opposition to Noah’s venture.

In The Ten Plagues, 11-year-old Kai Wells faces a school bully. When the confrontation turns into a fight that knocks her out, everything changes. Kai wakes up in a field in ancient Egypt where the Israelites are enslaved. Moses goes to Pharaoh to ask for their freedom, and Kai experiences the story of the ten plagues that God sends to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.

Koceich creates a world where a significant event is experienced through the eyes of an 8- to 12-year old. Like the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshish, this biblical historical fiction series allows the reader to experience history through the eyes of a young person. Historical details, engaging narrative, and a thrilling adventure await in each book. A third book, The Fall of Jericho, is expected in fall 2018.

Recommended for school and public libraries, especially fans of the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshish. Hopefully these are the first of many books in this series for young readers.

Carol R. Gehringer, CLJ

A Vintage National Parks Novel series / by Karen Barnett. 10.26.2018

The Road to Paradise / by Karen Barnett. (A Vintage National Parks Novel, Book 1)

Waterbrook ISBN 9780735289543

Where the Fire Falls / by Karen Barnett. (A Vintage National Parks Novel, Book 2)

Waterbrook ISBN 9780735289567

Adult Rating: 5

Margie Lane, senator’s daughter, wants nothing more than to shirk the bustle and expectations of high society to live a Walden-esque life in The Road to Paradise. Her opportunity to do so has come in the form of a job at Mount Rainier National Park, much to the dismay of Chief Ranger Ford Brayden, who has been put in charge of her duties there. The two share a love of the mountain, but forces are at play that could strip the wilderness of its wild wonders–and Margie is saddled with the responsibility to save Mt. Rainier. She’s not sure if she can, but she is willing to die trying.

Olivia Rutherford does everything she can to distance herself from her father’s history in Where the Fire Falls. A talented artist, Olivia accepts the guidance of her art dealer on everything from how to dress and wear her hair to friend choices to accepting an assignment–in Yosemite. Due to its connections with her father and his past, the last place Olivia wants to go is Yosemite. And due to her appearance as a flapper and the wealthy socialites accompanying her, Clark Johnson, handsome park guide and former pastor, does not want to lead the trio through the park. Olivia and Clark will only have a chance at life and love if they learn that not all is as it seems.

Karen Barnett’s writing offers readers an escape to the great outdoors just prior to the Great Depression. The setting of both books is vital to the story line–in both books the characters need to overcome a fear of some kind related to the park or wilderness. The descriptions aid in creating a book vacation to the great outdoors, but do not slow the pacing of the plot. Also, the characters’ sensibilities are shaped by the time in which the books are set. Filled with romance and adventure and a bit of mystery, the plots of both books move quickly. While both books are enjoyable reads, they both deal with some weightier matters through which the characters must work. Both books offer readers a chance to walk with the characters as they overcome fear, learn to accept and rely on Jesus, and learn to accept grace.

“Dis-grace is a human term, Clark. God invented grace. No one can take it from you.” (Where the Fire Falls, p. 333)

Kristina Wolcott, CLJ

Fault Lines / by Thomas Locke. 10.25.2018

Revell ISBN 9780800724375

Adult Rating: 4

Charlie Hazard’s meeting with the captivating and mysterious Dr. Gabriella McLaren is not by chance. Gabriella and her colleagues have opened an entirely new field into the human mind and its abilities, but to complete the study they need Charlie’s help. A rumored syndicate of the world’s rich and influential have learned of the new study and want it for themselves and they’ve hired Reese Clawson to do just that. Reese will use everything at her disposal to gain their knowledge or keep it from advancing any further. Charlie will have to rely on his military training to stay ahead of Reese Clawson to protect Gabriella, her team, and their study.

Thomas Locke doesn’t waste a moment grabbing the reader within the first paragraphs of chapter one. Locke can fashion a smoldering adventure packed with the right combination of action and mystery. Pulling the reader deeper, causing them to root for Charlie while simultaneously creating unsettling possibilities with an antagonist that seems to be prepared for Charlie’s every move, Thomas Locke forces the reader to turn the pages until the end.

Fault Lines is the prequel to Locke’s earlier two Fault Line novels, Trial Run and Flash Point.

Cicely Ben, CLJ

You’re Welcome, Universe / by Whitney Gardner. 10.24.2018

Knopf Books for Young Readers ISBN 9780399551413

YA Grades 9 and up Rating: 5

Whitney Gardner paints an eye-opening picture of the deaf community in You’re Welcome, Universe. This coming-of-age story about Julia, a deaf high school artist, brings to light the difficulties of making new friends, embracing your uniqueness, and following your dreams.

When her only friend snitches on her for spray painting over vandalism on school property, Julia gets kicked out of her deaf school and is forced to go to a “hearie” school. Even with the warm welcome from her new interpreter and a kind-hearted classmate, Julia is determined to push everyone away and focus on her art. Julia feels guilty for disobeying orders from her two moms to give up street art, but that won’t stop her from pursuing her dream.

Being known for her art becomes her obsession—her sole identity. She begins sneaking off at night to graffiti public property. But, each time she returns to one of her pieces, another artist has tagged his or her own art style to them. Sparking a graffiti war, Julia is furiously focused on creating a piece so perfect that nothing can be added. Can Julia keep fighting, even when the cops get involved? And could the culprit of the vandalism be the art teacher who’s vying for her street art to be preserved? Or the attractive coworker that she has crushed on for years? Or someone she would never expect?

Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, dedicated to books that embody artistic expression of the disability experience, You’re Welcome, Universe uses art, texts, high school slang, and the perspective of a deaf woman to tell this unique “be careful what you wish for” story that will give teens a raw perspective on being deaf. You’re Welcome, Universe may not be appropriate for readers offended by provocative language, law-breaking, and revenge, and the fact that the protagonist professes that her “only god” is her favorite artist. Nonetheless, this book creates a broad range of emotions relevant to high school students, and may be recommended to young artists and those struggling to find their place in the world.

Rebecca Schriner, CLJ

A Memphis Cold Case Novel series / by Patricia Bradley. 10.23.2018

Justice Delayed / by Patricia Bradley. (A Memphis Cold Case Novel, 1)

Revell ISBN 9780800727086

Justice Buried / by Patricia Bradley (A Memphis Cold Case Novel, 2)

Revell ISBN 9780800727123

Adult Rating: 5

In Justice Delayed, investigative journalist, Andi Hollister, obtains new information regarding the murder of her sister 18 years earlier. Andi’s friend is to be executed in three days when he receives a letter telling him he hadn’t committed the murder. Unfortunately, by the time Andi and Will, a cold-case detective, visit Jimmy in prison, the letter has been stolen. Andi’s life is on the line while she seeks justice for her sister and tries to ascertain Jimmy’s guilt or innocence.

Kelsey Allen hopes to start a security consulting agency in Justice Buried. In the meantime, she consults for another company and her jobs include hacking computer and building security systems, as well as scaling walls and breaking into buildings without getting caught. When she is hired to work undercover at the Pink Palace Museum to investigate some missing items as well as check their security, she has no idea the current case will be so closely linked to a cold case that personally affects her. She also has no idea that accepting the position will bring her into regular contact with Brad Hollister–the boy she once had a crush on who crushed her feelings in return in high school. Now a cold case investigator, he is indispensable to closing the case and to keeping Kelsey alive.

Patricia Bradley’s Memphis Cold Case novels are a suspense lover’s delight! The plot takes off from the beginning and rockets to the end. While puzzling through information, the characters also have to puzzle through some of the intricacies of developing relationships. Though plot-driven, the strong female protagonists grow as they overcome personal hurdles. Plentiful dialogue moves the story along and unfolds the character’s personalities. As the characters take on their challenges, fall in love, solve crimes, and encounter deadly situations, they realize their need for God’s help in their journey.

Kristina Wolcott, CLJ

The Liberator series / by Stephenia H. McGee. 10.22.2018

Leveraging Lincoln: A Civil War Novel / by Stephenia H. McGee. (The Liberator, 1)

Vine Press ISBN 9780997866018

Adult Rating: 5

Losing Lincoln / by Stephenia H. McGee. (The Liberator, 2)

Vine Press ISBN 9780997866025

Adult Rating: 5

Labeling Lincoln / by Stephenia H. McGee. (The Liberator, 3)

Vine Press ISBN 9781635640069

Adult Rating: 4

Caught in the middle of the Civil War, Annabelle Ross runs a hospital from her Southern plantation, sending partially recovered soldiers back to war and burying the rest. In Leveraging Lincoln, Annabelle is looking for any excuse to avoid marrying her step-uncle, a scheme that would allow her grandfather to claim her land. When a soldier passes her an urgent note for the Confederate army, she tries to fulfill his dying wish by delivering the message. She is apprehended as a spy until Matthew, a wounded soldier, helps her escape. Could his brother, a prisoner of war, have been her childhood betrothed and the only one who could help save her land? Or is Matthew planning to use the note to kidnap the Union president?

In Losing Lincoln, Matthew and Annabelle have escaped Booth’s president-kidnapping conspiracy and are searching for George, Matthew’s brother. Their prayers are answered when a flood allows George to escape his prison camp. Despite Matthew’s affection toward Annabelle, he leaves her to fall for his brother. Matthew follows one of the conspirators back to their crazed leader, O’Malley, in hopes of stopping the kidnapping. Will Matthew and Annabelle’s attempts to protect Lincoln be enough to save him?

Labeling Lincoln exposes the aftermath of the assassination of Lincoln. Annabelle, Matthew, and George are detained—despite trying to help the police. Believing he has no choice, Matthew signs allegiance papers to help the Union army track Booth and free his brother and love. After being kidnapped by a vicious O’Malley, Matthew’s chances of returning to Annabelle appear slim.

While the first two books focus on the plot with subtle moral lessons, the third book is more preachy. Ideas such as the evils of alcohol, lying, and hate turning into drunkenness, deceit, and demon possession pervade this final chapter. The answer to overcoming all these problems is love and God. Regardless of the overdone conclusion, this is a wonderful series.

Every detail of The Liberator trilogy proves author Stephenia McGee’s dedication to research. Her writing is clear and compelling, leaving the perfect amount of suspense to keep readers flipping pages. She chooses to focus on loveable, fictional characters to tell Lincoln’s story. Adult readers of historical fiction and romance will fall in love with this twist on Lincoln’s assassination.

Rebecca Schriner, CLJ

When We Collided / by Emery Lord. 10.19.2018

Bloomsbury ISBN 9781619638457

YA Grades 9-12 Rating: 4

When We Collided centers around two 16-year-old teenagers who connect in a memorable way in the small coastal California town of Verona Cove over one summer. Vivian “Vivi” Alexander is into art and quirky fashion, has boundless energy, and makes spontaneous decisions. Jonah Daniels is serious, rarely smiles, and passionate about cooking. When the teenagers meet at a local pottery shop, they are immediately attracted to one another and become romantically involved. However, their relationship is profoundly affected by the tough issues both are facing in their lives. Vivi is dealing with mental illness and secretly tossing one of her prescription drugs into the ocean every day. Jonah is struggling to cope with the unforeseen death of his father, his mother’s debilitating depression, and parental and household responsibilities.

The story is told from the perspective of both Vivi and Jonah using alternating chapters in first person. This gives readers a realistic view of what the teenagers are thinking and feeling, and the effects emotional distress has not only on their relationship but also on friends and family members. The teenagers help each other cope with their individual challenges by offering support in a number of ways. For instance, although Jonah feels weighed down by responsibility, Vivi persuades him to relax and have fun, allowing Jonah to discover he enjoys acting carefree, even if only for a short time. On the occasions Vivi exhibits outlandish behavior, Jonah is the one who encourages her to rein in her actions. At the same time, the teenagers’ different personalities sometimes lead to conflicts, and an unplanned accident has a life-changing impact on both of them.

Emery Lord has written a compelling novel about what it means to live with mental illness and bereavement. The story includes profanity, discussions involving reincarnation, sexual innuendo and sexual intimacy, under-age drinking, and skinny dipping. In the author’s note, Lord encourages readers, who relate to what Vivi and Jonah are going through, to ask for help and provides resources that offer expertise in mental health issues.

Dianne Woodman, CLJ

Amish Beginnings series / by Suzanne Woods Fisher. 10.18.2018

The Newcomer / by Suzanne Woods Fisher. (Amish Beginnings series, 2)

Revell ISBN 9780800727499

The Return / by Suzanne Woods Fisher. (Amish Beginnings series, 3)

Revell ISBN 9780800727505

Adult Rating: 4

Anna and Bairn’s story continues in The Newcomer. Having just arrived in the New World, Bairn finally reunites with the family who thought him dead. However, the years of living apart from his Amish family and faith are not so easily erased, and Bairn finds himself restless and unsure of where he belongs. When he is offered a position as first mate, he jumps at the chance.

Anna cannot believe he would leave her or his family so soon after finding them, and she begins to fear that the pull of the world and the sea will always keep him from her. Will Bairn find his way back to Anna and to his Amish roots? If so, will she still be waiting for him as she promised?

In The Return, Betsy Zook and Tessa Bauer find themselves infatuated with the same man, handsome Hans; however, it is clear that Hans’ affections lie with Betsy. When Betsy is captured by Natives and taken far from all she knows and loves, will her faith and the faith of a young Native man be enough to sustain her through her loss and heartache? Meanwhile, Tessa finally gains Hans’ attention, but will she ever win his heart?

In books two and three of Suzanne Woods Fisher’s “Amish Beginnings” series, old characters are revisited and new ones introduced, bringing the satisfaction of resolution and continued interest for fans of the first book. Fisher does an excellent job maintaining characterization throughout this series, while authentically merging fiction with history to weave a story of hope without shying away from the harsh realities of an untamed land. Romance, adventure, and suspense keep the pages turning, while the inner struggles and growth of the main characters will challenge and evoke a range of emotions.

Themes of forgiveness, coming home, letting go, and holding on are woven throughout the trials and lessons these characters endure along their personal journeys of life, love, and faith. Anna, Betsy, and Tessa are three women with unique personalities and experiences, but each possesses the same steadfast spirit necessary to survive the pioneer life. With its charm, flawed characters, and enduring faith, this series will be a favorite among fans of Amish and historical fiction.

Justina McBride, CLJ

Earlier Series Title Reviewed by CLJ: Anna’s Crossing (Oct/Nov/Dec 2016)

The Story Peddler / by Lindsay A. Franklin. (The Weaver Trilogy, 1) 10.17.2018

Enclave ISBN 9781683701361

YA Grades 9 and up Rating: 5

Lindsay Franklin debuts a new young adult fantasy series where storytelling is a gift, one that a wicked king wants to control.

In The Story Peddler, an orphaned peasant girl Tanwen tells stories and weaves crystalized sculptures that she sells to her audience under the tutelage of a cruel mentor. Her dream is to become a Royal Storyteller someday. Tanwen travels around the countryside, selling “crowned” stories (official versions of the stories the way the king wants them told). One day she is telling a story and feels compelled to speak different words, words that tell the truth, but not the “crowned” version. That brings her to the attention of the king, and not in a good way. As the king’s guardsmen hunt her down, she is “rescued” by a band of rebels–story weavers with various gifts who teach her more about her gift. Tanwen discovers secrets about her gift and her family. On the run, will Tanwen find her destiny?Franklin does an excellent job of creating a world where spoken words have magic as they take on new meaning.

The cover shows colorful threads that the storyteller weaves together in telling the story. Her word pictures capture the imagination of the reader and the action builds with each turning page. Tanwen, Brac, Mor, and the other weavers are engaging characters. The dialogue is witty, the plot has several twists and turns, and the faith element is light but still inspirational (Creator vs. goddesses). This is a good vs. evil battle fantasy that will be enjoyed for its colorful imagery, rebels, traitors, unlikely heroes, a princess, a king, and more.

Recommended for young adults, older teens, and fantasy fans, especially fans of Mary Weber, Nadine Brandes, and Sara Ella. Watch for book 2, The Story Mage coming in 2019.

Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com