Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race / by Chris Grabenstein. 4.18.2018

Random House Books for Young Readers     ISBN 9780553536065

INT     Grades 3-7     Rating: 5

Award winning author Chris Grabenstein pens another humorous middle-grade novel combining the elements of an adventure, a mystery, and a race, set in a research/fact-finding environment.

 In Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race, Mr. Lemoncello calls on Kyle, his friends, as well as Kyle’s nemesis, Charles Chiltington, to test his new game (Fabulous Fact-Finding Frenzy), a game that involves an old-time bicycle, a bookmobile, and Mr. Lemoncello’s jet. The first team to bring the correct facts about historical figures back to the library wins the grand prize. When some disturbing “facts” begin to circulate about Mr. Lemoncello, it causes Kyle to question everything he knows about Mr. Lemoncello and to work hard to uncover the truth.

Grabenstein is back with another whimsical and clever story about solving puzzles and uncovering facts. The action takes part in Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, as well as his home and Imagination Factory in New York City. Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race celebrates readers, libraries, authors, and librarians. Grabenstein continues to develop characters that readers will enjoy getting to know. His storytelling and settings and delightful sense of humor will engage the most reluctant of readers. A number of books are given the nod in this book, and the author lists them in the back (C. S. Lewis, Wonder, Seuss, and more).

The Lemoncello series is filled with adventure, suspense, humor, and puzzles for the reader to solve. Fans of the earlier books will devour this book, with its hidden bonus puzzle. Readers will be delighted to know Grabenstein has been signed to write another Lemoncello book!

Recommended for school and public libraries.

 Carol R. Gehringer, CLJ

Let There Be Science: Why God Loves Science and Science Needs God / by Tom McLeish and David Hutchings. 4.17.2018

Lion Books ISBN 9780745968636

Adult (YA) Rating: 4

In Let There Be Science: Why God Loves Science and Science Needs God, physics teacher David Hutchings and physics professor Tom McLeish lay out a discussion of the relatedness–and even inseparable relationship–between God and science. The authors propose that “science flows naturally from the Christian worldview, and that it always has” (p. 10). In order to support this claim, Hutchings and McLeish set forth an initial explanation of science as a way of thinking, rather than a specific body of knowledge or modern technological advances. Each chapter then tackles a broader, typically theologically-related topic by presenting historical narratives of scientific discoveries, then analyzing or comparing these narratives within an openly Christian framework.

Hutchings and McLeish do a fabulous job of creating an understandable and relatable text. The authors use biblical texts and narratives from the history of scientific discovery as their main tools. In so doing, the authors constantly remind the reader that science is something that is innately human. Although “science” sometimes seems unapproachable or a field only for a certain group of people, Hutchings and McLeish superbly explain each topic, as well as show the humanness or relatability of the process of scientific discovery and the individuals involved. Each chapter then concludes with a summary section that helps to clarify connections or implications within individual chapters and chapters up to that point.

By the end of the book, the reader has heard the stories of numerous scientists, from ancient to modern, and the biblical analysis that best explains the continued progression of science no matter the circumstance. From biblical invitation to study the universe, to the knowableness of nature, to the order found in chaos, to perseverance in the face of hardship, Hutchings and McLeish present a thought-provoking argument for the unavoidable relatedness of God and science.

Elisabeth A. Orr, CLJ

Jo Oliver Thriller series / by Catherine Finger 4.5.2018

Cleansed by death / by Catherine Finger (A Jo Oliver Thriller, 1)
Anchored Productions ISBN 9780007991901

Shattered by death / by Catherine Finger (A Jo Oliver Thriller, 2)
Anchored Productions ISBN 9780997991994

Anchored by death / by Catherine Finger (A Jo Oliver Thriller, 3)
Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. ISBN 9781946638304

Adult Rating: 3

In Catherine Finger’s Cleansed by Death, Police Chief Jo Oliver is tracking a serial killer, one who has her in his sights. The Mentor Sister Serial Killer always first takes a young girl in anticipation of an adult woman in her life. The child is not fatally harmed but brings the adult to his door, an adult he does unspeakable things to before taking her life.

Jo has desperately wanted to adopt Samantha, but her cruel and abusive husband would not allow it. Now on the brink of divorce from Del, she is determined to make that adoption a reality. But can she save Sam from the kidnapping that is intended to bring about her own death?

In this book Jo herself has mentors who gently lead her to Christ, a decision she makes before the book’s ending. She does have a friend named Nick with whom there is a definite attraction and sexual tension. They do not act on this, and Jo gives as her reason the fact that she is still married.

The second book in the series is Shattered by Death. On the brink of a very costly divorce and having once said she would be glad to see her ex-husband and his girlfriend both dead, when Del and his paramour are found brutally murdered, Josie Oliver is the key suspect. One by one, her worst enemies are being killed. Who is behind this, who hates Oliver enough to want to make her a prime target?

Once again, Jo is concerned about Sam and how this will affect the adoption. Her newfound faith is present and active but her doubts abound, too.

Anchored by Death takes Police Chief Oliver off to Wisconsin for some much-needed R & R where, of course, she once more becomes embroiled in a case, hoping to catch the Bow Tie Killer. Dealing with a psychopath is one thing but the long-held romantic feelings for Nick Vitarello only add fuel to the fire of Jo’s crazy life, searching for a serial killer and trying to either rein in her feelings or give in to her love for Nick.

And always, in the back of her mind is Samantha, the young girl she is determined to adopt and create a family with. Jo Oliver loves the Lord, rather newly-found in her life, and His presence is felt throughout Anchored by Death.

Ceil Carey, CLJ

The Hiding Game / by Gwen Strauss; illustrated by Herb Leonhard. 4.4.2018

Pelican Publishing Company ISBN 9781455622658

INT Grades 2-5 Rating: 5

Little Aube, daughter of the famous poet, Andre Breton, is forced to move from place to place with her family during the 1940s in Nazi-occupied France. They eventually find shelter in a hidden villa where an American, Varian Fry, with funds from the New York American Rescue Committee, works to arrange passage for them, and others, out of war-torn Europe.

Sundays are Aube’s favorite day because, together with all of the guests in the house, she spends the day drawing, singing, and playing games. “Papa said that ‘by singing, playing and laughing with the greatest joy,’ they would fight against fear.” But most of the time, things remain secret–like the radio for listening to the war news and the cow in the yard for giving milk. Aube also has her own secret hiding place: the old armoire in the kitchen, just in case “they” come.

The Hiding Game, a work of creative nonfiction based on a true story, is a moving account of a little-known part of history. Strauss introduces the reader to Varian Fry and her great-uncle Danny Benedite, brave men who were instrumental in saving the lives of some of the most important scientists, artists, writers, and thinkers of the day such as: Vlady Serge who fled to Mexico and became one of the country’s leading muralist; Max Ernst, a German painter; and artists Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp; among others.

Illustrations by Herb Leonhard draw the reader into the lives of the characters, turning a factual account into a personal encounter with time and history. Strauss also provides actual photos of the individuals, a brief history of the account, and links for further study and reading.

Veronica Jorge, CLJ

Arch Books Bible Story Series 4.3.2018

Jesus Christ is Risen Today! / by Eric C. Bohnet; illustrated by Erika LeBarre. (Arch Books Bible Story Series/Easter)

Concordia ISBN 9780758657350

Joshua and the Fall of Jericho / by Sara H. Low; illustrated by Mina Price. (Arch Books Bible Story Series/The Old Testament)

Concordia ISBN 9780758657343

Peter Surprises Rhoda / by Larry Burgdorf; illustrated by Len Ebert. (Arch Books Bible Story Series/The New Testament)

Concordia ISBN 9780758657336

The Night Peter Cried / by Larry Burgdorf; illustrated by Dani Jones. (Arch Books Bible Story Series/Easter)

Concordia ISBN 9780758652263

The Christmas Connection / written and illustrated by Karyn E. Lukasek. (Arch Books Bible Story Series/Christmas)

Concordia ISBN 9780758654694

Falling Into Sin / by Martha Streufert Jander; illustrated by Michelle Dorenkamp Repa. (Arch Books Bible Story Series/Bible Beginnings)

Concordia ISBN 9780758654700

Cain and Abel / by Nicole E. Dreyer; illustrated by Deborah Borgo. (Arch Books Bible Story Series/The Old Testament)

Concordia ISBN 9780758652256

PRI K-Grade 4 Rating: 4

Jesus Christ is Risen Today!, Joshua and the Fall of Jericho, Peter Surprises Rhoda, The Night Peter Cried, The Christmas Connection, Falling Into Sin, and Cain and Abel are seven recent titles in the 125+ volume Arch Books Bible Story Series. The books present events from Scripture in an illustrated, rhyming format for children.

Each slim paperback is retold in memorable four-line stanzas and accompanying full-page artwork. The title pages include a biblical reference, and each book concludes with a thought-provoking letter to parents.

Different author/illustrator pairings for each title contribute to the appeal of the series. Though following a similar format, each story has a unique look and tone. Overall, the poetic writing is clever, with a good amount of challenging vocabulary for young readers. The story settings and details depicted through the varied styles of artwork add visual interest and help distinguish each book.

Jesus Christ is Risen Today!, Joshua and the Fall of Jericho, Peter Surprises Rhoda, The Night Peter Cried, The Christmas Connection, Falling Into Sin, and Cain and Abel introduce children to both familiar and lesser-known stories from the Bible in a fun and engaging way. Whether shared aloud or read independently, these titles are likely to foster an understanding and further exploration of Scripture.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage / by Julie Klassen. (Tales from Ivy Hill, 2) 4.2.2018

Bethany House ISBN 9780764218156

Adult Rating: 5

Award-winning author Julie Klassen continues her Regency series set in the English village of Ivy Hill.

In The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, Rachel Ashford is Mercy and Matilda Grove’s guest at the Ivy Cottage. Rachel is a gentlewoman who seeks to make a living as her funds are dwindling. Her friend Jane Bell, the innkeeper of Ivy Hill, and Mercy, manager of the local school for girls, encourage her to start a circulating library with books she inherited from her father, as well as with donations. As she sorts through the villagers’ donations, she uncovers a mystery hidden within one of the books that she tries to solve.

Meanwhile, Mercy fills her days at the school, having given up the thought of marriage. When several men begin taking an interest in the ladies of Ivy Cottage, she assumes Rachel is the attraction, but what if she is wrong? Will the ladies solve the mysteries of the past and find hope for the future?

Klassen is known for her excellent character development in her inspirational Regency novels, which are filled with love and redemption, and family relationships. The faith elements are light-handed. Readers will appreciate the nod to Jane Austen, as well as the depth of the historical details. Discussion questions are also included.

 Recommended for public and high school libraries. Her novels should appeal to adults and high school readers alike. Fans of Julie Klassen, Sarah E. Ladd, Carrie Turansky, and other historical fiction fans will be delighted to read this series. Watch for the next book in this series, The Bride of Ivy Green, coming in December 2018.

Carol R. Gehringer,

Earlier Series Titles Reviewed by CLJ: The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (Jan/Feb/Mar 2017).

Wow! The Good News in Four Words / by Dandi Daley Mackall; illustrated by Annabel Tempest. 4.1.2018

Tyndale Kids ISBN 9781496418142

PRI PS-Grade 2 Rating: 5

Wow! The Good News in Four Words by Dandi Daley Mackall is a picture book introduction to God’s love and plan for us.

The author uses clever rhyming stanzas to present God’s creation of light and the world (“Wow!”), Adam and Eve’s disobedience (“Uh-oh”), the birth of Jesus (“Yes”), and the resurrection (“Ahh”). The powerful concluding message is that believers can continue to share Christ’s presence, love, and guidance.

Whimsical artwork by Annabel Tempest puts a smile on even the sun and moon, gives personality to all of God’s creatures, and captures the breadth of His love worldwide. A bounty of color fills the pages with vibrant, charming scenes.

The author includes a “Note To Parents” with a helpful overview of the book’s content, and a list of Scripture references for further study.

The simple format of Wow! The Good News in Four Words is creative, memorable, and enticing, a great starter for young children but also a wonderful refresher for the adults who read to them!

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

Imperfect Justice / by Cara Putman. 3.30.2018

Thomas Nelson ISBN 9780718083489

Adult Rating: 4

Award-winning author Cara Putman pens another contemporary legal thriller featuring strong women.

In Imperfect Justice, attorney Emilie Wesley’s client Kaylene Adams is accused of killing one daughter and seriously wounding another. Emilie doesn’t believe it, because Kaylene was about to leave an abusive relationship to protect her daughters. Kaylene’s brother Reid Billings discovers a letter from Kaylene, pleading for his help in protecting her girls from their abusive father, telling him to consult Emilie for her assistance. Emilie and Reid work together to track down the truth about Kaylene’s husband and protect her surviving daughter.

Domestic violence is a central theme in this novel. Only two people believe that Kaylene didn’t do it–her attorney and her brother. The police killed Kaylene in the process of trying to arrest her, thinking she had killed her first daughter and wounded her second one. Who was the real killer, and why didn’t others see what was really going on? Legal proceedings and custody battles ensue for Reid and Emilie as they try to uncover the truth and protect Kaylene youngest daughter.

Putman is well-acquainted with the legal scene–she holds a law degree and teaches law. Author of legal thrillers, historical romances, and romantic suspense, Putman excels at the development of a twisting plot and sensitivity for an important topic: domestic violence and custody battles. Putman knows the ins and outs of the law, and creates a believeable scenario in her stories. Faith elements are clearly present as is a clean romance.

Recommended for public libraries and fans of contemporary suspense novels.

Carol R. Gehringer,

Deadly Proof / by Rachel Dylan. (Atlanta Justice, 1) 3.26.2018

Bethany House ISBN 9780764219801

Adult Rating: 4

Rachel Dylan pens a legal thriller in a new contemporary romantic suspense series set in Atlanta.

In Deadly Proof, lawyer Kate Sullivan goes after a pharmaceutical company when a whistleblower dies, refusing to put her ethics aside as she fights for justice. Every step she takes to uncover the truth in the corporate cover-up puts her life in more danger. Her opposing counsel is a friend from law school, providing drama and tension in the courtroom battle. Former Army Ranger Landon James works as a private investigator for Kate in tracking down the whistleblower’s allegations.

The more time they spend together on the case, the more their relationship grows. The attraction between Landon and Kate moves very slowly, then quite rapidly. At the same time, the danger grows as they face an enemy who will go to any length to stop the lawsuit, even murder. Will they get justice for those affected by the pharmaceutical company’s dangerous drug before one of them is gravely injured?

Dylan pens a fast-paced legal thriller that grabs the reader early and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat until the final page. Forgiveness is a central theme. Landon lives a life filled with regret–he gave up on God. Kate, having gained her own forgiveness for her past, prays for him and encourages him to forgive himself. While the book is part of the Atlanta Justice series, there is little in the book that reflects its Atlanta or southern setting.

Recommended for public libraries and for fans of romantic suspense novels by Dani Pettrey, Irene Hannon, Lynette Eason, and DiAnn Mills. Book 2, Lone Witness, is expected in May 2018.

Carol R. Gehringer,

Regency Brides series / by Carolyn Miller. 3.21.2018

The Captivating Lady Charlotte / by Carolyn Miller. (Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace, 2)

Kregel     ISBN 9780825444517

The Dishonorable Miss Delancey / by Carolyn Miller. (Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace, 3)

Kregel ISBN 9780825444524

Adult Rating: 4

Carolyn Miller continues her Regency series, set in England.

In The Captivating Lady Charlotte, Lady Charlotte Featherington, the beautiful daughter of a marquess, expected to receive a marriage proposal during her Season. She falls in love with a dashing suitor, but her father intends for her to marry Duke William Hartwell, a man who does not captivate her. Being a dutiful daughter, Charlotte will probably marry Hartwell. She has captured his heart, but can he capture hers? His wealth and title will not win her over, but will his patient courtship? Will they find a love match beyond their expectations?

In The Dishonorable Miss Delancey, Clara Delancey leaves London after a scandal caused by her unreal expectations of a gentleman’s attentions, her mother’s attempts to force a marriage upon said gentleman, and her brother’s financial affairs. Relocating to Brighton, she makes the acquaintance of an injured naval captain’s sisters. Captain Benjamin Kemsley also befriends Clara and seeks to lift her from the despair that threatens her. A friendship ensues, much to the disdain of Clara’s mother. Can they find a future together without financial and family support?

Miller writes a wholesome Regency series with features that her fans have come to expect: a courtly romance suitable for adults and older teens, with historical detail and excellent characterization. Her characters face real problems in terms of finances, others’ expectations, faith issues, and finding one’s place, permitting the reader to more easily identify with them. Appearances of characters from earlier books are a welcome surprise for Miller fans. The faith element in these books is light but evident.

Recommended for high school and public libraries. Fans of Julie Klassen, Jane Austen, and Regency romances will enjoy this series. The author’s next series comes out in spring 2018.

Carol R. Gehringer,

Earlier Series Titles Reviewed by CLJ The Elusive Miss Ellison (Oct/Nov/Dec 2017)