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

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

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

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)

Conspiracy of Silence / by Ronie Kendig. 10.16.2018

Bethany House ISBN 9780764217654

Adult Rating: 5

Tzivia Khalon, an archaeologist, seeks to redeem her professional reputation following a disaster that happened three years earlier. She thinks her most current discovery will do just that in Conspiracy of Silence. Little does she know the threat found within the biblical era discovery. A special ops soldier, Cole “Tox” Russell, presumed dead by all who love him, returns when his country needs him to neutralize the assassin of the former vice president. As Tox assembles his team, forces are at work to access and proliferate a toxin that could kill those with whom it comes into contact. Haven “Kasey” Cortes, FBI deception detector, once had a schoolgirl crush on Cole, and now holds his freedom in her hands. Tox and his team must find not only the assassin responsible for so much death, but also those bent on spreading a plague.

Ronie Kendig’s suspenseful plot moves quickly. In addition to locating and taking down the assassin, the team of characters must find the source of the plague as well as its remedy before it spreads throughout the world. This mission takes them from the United States to Saudi Arabia, to India then Jerusalem, and finally to Syria and beyond. Each piece of the puzzle seems to add a new layer of history or mystery to their search. In addition to the high stakes plot, the characters face some life-changing realizations–if they can see them. Cole fears hurting those he loves more than anything and must overcome that fear if he is to have any meaningful relationships with them. Tzivia’s lack of faith blinds her to possibilities that could solve a devastating outbreak of a plague. Kasey feels dwarfed by the shadow of her sister which sometimes blinds her to feelings others have for her. As they seek answers and justice, they also seek redemption–some professional, some relational, and some spiritual. And whether they see it or not, Kendig shows that God is there–offering redemption and rescue all along the way.

Kristina Wolcott, CLJ

The Promise of Breeze Hill / by Pam Hillman. (A Natchez Trace Novel) 9.26.2018

Tyndale ISBN 9781496415929

Adult     Rating: 5

With her brother murdered, her widowed sister-in-law pregnant, her father badly burned, and her home half-destroyed, Isabella Bartholomew longs for her pre-tragedy life. The once-prominent Breeze Hill now stands near-ruin, and young Isabella believes restoring her father’s estate is the only thing that will bring some normalcy back into the Bartholomew household.

Short on funds, Isabella takes a gamble to purchase indentured servant papers for Irishman Connor O’Shea, a carpenter seeking American passage for his brothers, hoping that the harvest will fund his service–that is, if no more misfortune befalls her family.

Connor, scorned by his former mistress, tries to keep focused on his work instead of the enchanting Isabella—though his struggle may be a lost cause. Ruffians, bandits, kidnappers, and courters keep bringing chaos to the Bartholomew family and bringing Connor and Isabella closer together. The misfortune of Breeze Hill begins to appear like a strategic attack. As disaster strikes, can Isabella protect the estate? And will Connor be able to keep her safe?

Bestselling author Pam Hillman subtly fills readers’ minds with historic details of the late 1700s, from female and foreigner discrimination to courting and inheritance traditions. Pulling the reader in with lovely description, Hillman creates an unforgettable adventure with a cast of realistic characters. Isabella embodies the role of a dutiful daughter, while Connor’s past motivates his actions and develops his character throughout the book.

Because of the close third-person narration that alternates between Isabella’s and Connor’s perspectives, readers get to see their thoughts as they encounter thrilling feats and slowly fall in love. As scenes alternate, however, these main characters always seem to know what the other is thinking—often repeating information and merging these distinct voices.

This novel would fit well into any library’s Christian romance collection. Readers of Karen Witemeyer, Michelle Griep, and Regina Jennings will swoon over the romance in The Promise of Breeze Hill and be sucked into this can’t-put-down story.

Rebecca Schriner, CLJ

How to Live a Life of Prayer: Classic Christian Writers on the Divine Privilege of Prayer / compiled and edited by Donna K. Maltese. 9.20.2018

Barbour Books ISBN 9781683224638

Adult Rating: 4

In this work, Donna K. Maltese provides a compilation of excerpts from four Christian writers: John Wesley, E. M. Bounds, Andrew Murray, and S. D. Gordon. Through the words of these men, this collection of writings expounds on the topic of prayer using a “Who”, “What”, “When”, “Where”, “Why”, and “How” framework. Each author has a few contributing pieces within each section and subsection, providing a range of insight and varying perspectives on each topic. Many of the excerpts also include a Scripture passage to which the writer was referring, providing direct biblical connections alongside the interpretations or implications drawn out by the writer.

Though this combination of authors and pieces of their larger works does provide the reader with distinct perspectives and a broad understanding of the topic of prayer, the nature of the compilation makes for a disjointed reading experience. With excerpts ranging from a few words to a few pages in length, the subsections or topics within each section often change rather abruptly. Nevertheless, for those interested in growing in their understanding of and engagement in prayer, Maltese’s compilation provides excellent and diverse insight into the multifaceted practice of prayer in a neatly organized fashion.

Elisabeth A. Orr, CLJ

The Golden Vial / by Thomas Locke. (Legends of the Realm, 3) 9.17.2018

Revell     ISBN 9780800723873

Adult (YA)     Rating: 4

Award-winning author Thomas Locke continues his fantasy series for adults featuring elves, wizards, magic, and an orphan with special abilities.

In The Golden Vial, Hyam suffers from a strange wasting illness. Lady Shona leads her band of loyal followers to Hyam’s hometown to find answers, even if it means they must build new alliances and face deadly enemies.

Meanwhile, an orphaned servant girl named Dally, who lives in Hyam’s hometown, has kept her unique abilities a secret. But she may be the key to winning the final battle against an ancient evil threatening them. Will Dally step forward and embrace her role, and at what cost?

Locke builds a credible world (the Realm), a world in which no one is an innocent bystander in the eternal fight between good and evil. People can choose to ignore the evil around them and hope it goes away, or choose to fight it, using all their resources in trying to push back the darkness. Like most epic fantasies, this book includes sorcerers, elves, unusual creatures, dragons, and magic. Some would argue a Christian book shouldn’t have these elements, but they are essential to the overall plot. The Golden Vial is more engaging than the previous two books, Emissary and Merchant of Alyss. Surprisingly, Hyam plays a very minor role in this book after playing a major role in the earlier books. Readers are encouraged to read the other two books first to better understand the Realm and its story.

Recommended for adult collections in public libraries, and for fans of epic fantasy books by Patrick Carr and Jill Williamson.

Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com

Earlier Series Titles Reviewed by CLJEmissary (Nov/Dec 2015); Merchant of Alyss (Jan/Feb/Mar 2018).