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, worthy2read.wordpress.com

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, worthy2read.wordpress.com

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, worthy2read.wordpress.com

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, worthy2read.wordpress.com

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

Oath of Honor / by Lynette Eason. (Blue Justice, 1) 3.15.2017

Revell ISBN 9780800727215

Adult Rating: 5

Bestselling author Lynette Eason pens a new romantic suspense series about a law enforcement family.

In Oath of Honor, police officer Isabella (“Izzy”) St. John comes from a close-knit, law enforcement family, a family who supports one another when trouble comes. Her partner’s homicide detective brother Ryan assists her as she investigates her partner’s murder. When her investigation leads to a criminal organization and possibly “dirty” cops, maybe even someone from her family, can she trust Ryan? Can she find justice for her partner Kevin when it could mean a family member is guilty?

Lynette Eason kicks off a new series guaranteed to grab the reader’s attention from the first page and keep it engaged until the last page is read. Eason creates a fast-paced story with an ensemble of complex characters, a romance between longtime friends, and enough suspense to make the reader stay up all night trying to figure out the answers. Not only is there a murder of Izzy’s partner (who is Ryan’s brother), but there are ties to gangs, the local mafia, and even a psychotic ex-boyfriend/stalker to complicate the plot.

Having most of her family in law enforcement make the bonds between them even stronger. What happens when the evidence points to one of them? Eason does a masterful job wrapping up loose ends as the clues are revealed and the groundwork is laid for the next book in the series.

Highly recommended for public libraries and romantic suspense fans of DiAnn Mills, Dani Pettrey, Irene Hannon, and Dee Henderson. Look for additional books about the St. John family coming soon!

Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com

The Faith that God Built series / by Gary Bower; illustrated by Barbara Chotiner. 3.14.2018

The Beautiful Garden of Eden / by Gary Bower; illustrated by Barbara Chotiner. (The Faith that God Built)

Tyndale Kids ISBN 9781496417435

A Patch on the Peak of Ararat / by Gary Bower; illustrated by Barbara Chotiner. (The Faith that God Built)

Tyndale Kids ISBN 9781496417442

The Hurry Up Exit from Egypt / by Gary Bower; illustrated by Barbara Chotiner. (The Faith that God Built)

Tyndale Kids ISBN 9781496417459

The Frightening Philippi Jail / by Gary Bower; illustrated by Barbara Chotiner. (The Faith that God Built)

Tyndale KidsISBN 9781496417503

PRI Grades K-4 Rating: 4

The Beautiful Garden of Eden, A Patch on the Peak of Ararat, The Hurry Up Exit from Egypt, and The Frightening Philippi Jail are four titles in the Faith that God Built series by the author/illustrator team of Gary Bower and Barbara Chotiner.

These hardcover children’s books retell the Bible stories of Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, the Israelites’ flight from Egypt, and the imprisonment of Silas and Paul. Vivid artwork by Barbara Chotiner enlivens the action, immersing young readers amidst the people, animals, and setting of each story. The flat, folk-art style is eye-catching and dramatic, particularly the crowded, concluding scenes. Gary Bower uses clever rhyming lines of text that repeat and build with theatrical flair. The vocabulary is fresh and alive, a wonderful blend of descriptive phrases, uncommon adjectives, alliteration, personification, and a touch of humor.

The Bible is introduced as the source of each story and a verse from Scripture (New Living Translation) is provided. The Beautiful Garden of Eden, A Patch on the Peak of Ararat, The Hurry Up Exit from Egypt, and The Frightening Philippi Jail are uniquely presented and especially well-suited to being read aloud.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

Leather Shoe Charlie / by Gyeong-hwa Kim; illustrated by Anna Balbusso & Elena Balbusso. 3.12.2018

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers ISBN 9780802854735

INT Grades 2-5 Rating: 3

Charlie prizes the leather shoes his grandfather made for him. He even hopes to one day become a cobbler too. But something has changed in the English village where he lives, causing many to move away and leaving few people to buy his grandfather’s shoes.

When Charlie and his family also depart and relocate to the city of Manchester, he finds himself not only in unfamiliar surroundings but at a crossroads. He must decide whether to keep or to give up his comfortable leather shoes.

Leather Shoe Charlie, narrated from a child’s point of view, introduces young readers to the Industrial Revolution and globalization. The brown and grey color scheme by illustrators Anna and Elena Balbusso helps the reader to understand Charlie’s feelings about the changes occurring in society and in his family. At the end of the story, Gyeong-hwa Kim provides an easy-to-understand description of these movements and how they affected working and living conditions. Also included are Key Terms and Concepts, a map and pie chart, and a Timeline of Events; all of which serve to enhance comprehension and encourage further exploration of the topics.

Embedded in Leather Shoe Charlie, mainly a story of the changes that mechanized production and the growth of factories ushered in, lies a treasure. Despite the flux and shift that transform Charlie’s world, Gyeong-hwa Kim skillfully establishes a firm foundation for him. The choice he makes regarding his shoes demonstrates that though the world may change, family and love always remain constant and unchanging.

Veronica Jorge, CLJ