All posts by admin

Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett

At the beginning of Beaded Hope, we meet four very different wormen, each with her own reason for taking a mission trip to help women in South Africa.  Cassandra’s motives are purely selfish, Gabby is running away from her grief, and Heidi and Katie (mother and daughter) are both searching for a way to find each other.  What these four women encounter in a small South African town will change them all forever. Cathy Liggett’s beautifully written tale has the power to change the reader as well. 
Liggett weaves the tale of hope and despair, loss and redemption, and ultimately, the power that our Savior has to both heal and change. As the four women grow closer to the women they are helping (all of whom are either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS) and to each other, we see their lives genuinely changed.  Liggett’s adeptness at descriptive language serves to transport you to a land of poverty, sickness, and above all, faith and beauty.
The women of this village possess indomitable spirits.  They live in harsh conditions and watch those they love become ravaged by a fierce disease.  If anyone has a right to complain about the lot in life delivered, it would be these women.  And yet, they humble me (and the other American women) by continuing to praise God for all He has given them instead of focusing on what they do not have or what they are losing each day. They never question His outcome for their lives; they merely continue to serve Him.
Be forewarned, you WILL need a box of tissues.  Liggett’s characters face hard choices and circumstances head-on.  She does not shy away from thought provoking subject matter; rather, she leaves you wondering what you would do if you were in the place of any of these women.  Would you give unconditionally?  Put yourself aside to put others first?  Would you step out of your comfort zone to do His will and live as He commands?  
This is a novel that I will read again and again.  It touches my heart specifically, as my husband is from Kenya and the people of his country remain strong in the face of adversity.  I would urge you to visit www.beadedhope.com to learn more about these women and how you can help them.
This book was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit www.tyndalefiction.com for more information on this book. No payment was provided in return for this review. 

The Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giroello

The third in series about a forensic geologist turned FBI agent, The Clouds Roll Away finds Raleigh Harmon making her way back to her hometown of Richmond, Virginia after a forced assignment in Washington.   Soon after her arrival home, Raleigh begins to investigate an apparent hate crime with ties to the KKK.  She quickly (in my opinion) gets in over her head.  As with most mystery/crime novels, not all is as it seems and problems arise.  
I have to preface that I prefer to read crime novels through and let the story play itself out.  I do not spend any time as I read trying to figure out the “whodunit.”  I like to see where the author takes me.  I allow the author to take me on the journey of twists and turns, lead me astray, only to be caught off guard by the actual culprit.  There should be an ultimate AH-HA moment.  The ultimate twist should catch you by surprise.  The twist in this novel was not quite so dramatic.  I think the AH-HA moment was a little bit of a stretch, and it didn’t leave me with a desire to go back and read to see where I missed it. Also, there are parts of the novel that are more like a history or geography book as opposed to a novel.  Some of these passages are very helpful in making connections.  Others are not.  They seem to be inserted because they were learned during the research of the novel.
Having not read the first two books in the series, I will tell you that I am a little lost.  While the story itself regarding Raleigh’s investigation could stand alone, the interaction between the characters left me a little in the dark.  I needed to know more about the history between Raleigh and the other characters in the book, from her boss, to her mother, to her sister, and then her boyfriend.  There is apparently behind these relationships than you get in this book.  And, as a lead character, Raleigh isn’t particularly dynamic.  She seems to fall into most of what happens to her (good or bad). I will still give the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe I am missing something by not having read the first two installments.  
All in all, The Clouds Roll Away is an okay read.  There’s not much in the way of character development, but I am assuming that a lot of this is done in the first two novels.  Even so, I have picked up other novels that were not the first in a series and was so drawn into the story line that I absolutely HAD to read the first installments.  Such is not the case with this one.  I might go back and pick up the first two but doing so is not really a priority.  
This book was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit www.thomasnelson.com for more information on this book. No payment was provided in return for this review. 

Latter-Day Cipher by Latayne C.Scott

Journalist Solonnah Zee is assigned to cover the murder of Kristen Young, a young Utah heiress. The murder is not a ordinary murder, but one with strange carvings on the body and a note written in the weird symbols of the Deseret Alphabet of the early Mormon Church. This alphabet was designed by Joseph Smith with the writing of’ ‘The Book of Mormon’. The crimes soon escalate with the mutilated body of a long dead prostitute, the death of a hunter, a nameless man, a homeless old lady and the kidnapping of three men from a nursing home. Messages written in the Deseret Alphabet were left at each crime scene.

Who is behind these crimes? Are these incidents occurring to embarrass the LDS (Latter Day Saints) Church? What ties these crimes to the recent bombings of the Masonic Temples in Salt Lake City, Utah? Publicity like this is the last thing the LDS Church needs and it will do almost anything to protect themselves.

The author, an ex-Mormon, goes to great lengths to point out the differences between modern LDS doctrine, the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s Mormonism. She has first hand knowledge of workings of the Mormon Church, but it is clear she had never been a worker in the temple. The book can be very confusing and hard to understand as it is sometimes difficult for Christians to comprehend the acts and rites of the LSD members and their doctrines.

Fundamental and practicing Mormons will be offended by the book, no doubt. However, it is recommended for those considering joining the LDS Church or have questions or doubts about their faith. It is a true eye-opener.

This book was supplied as a review copy by the publisher.

Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.

Book one in the Glenbrooke Series, Secrets is the tale of Jessica Morgan a mid-twenties well educated woman looking to get away from her past with a clean break in a small town. The problem is that in a small town secrets are hard to keep – especially if you want a paycheck and the false identity she adopts to stay hidden doesn’t exist. To further complicate things, she finds herself on the receiving end of the affections of a stud fireman when she is trying to keep to herself.

Holding everyone at arms length, Jessica goes through her trials on her own, until she is drawn to a bright young high schooler, Dawn, who she has quite a bit in common with, but can’t express it. When Dawn talks Jessica into going on a mission trip to Mexico – with the fireman – her secrets and lies start to unravel.

This is a romantic fiction reprint from the mid-nineties – something that only becomes apparent in the clothing choices worn by the characters -white t-shirt and vest ladies? As is typical of the genre everyone is attractive, everyone is perfectly who they are – not conflicted – and the script doesn’t go off track for a second. You know what you are getting into as soon as you start reading. Strike that – you know as soon as you walk into the romance section of the Christian bookstore. For fans of the genre this is a good choice at this value price point as it starts the Glenbrooke Series. For readers who aren’t normally fans of romantic fiction, there isn’t much to entice you to pick this up. For me, the secret was the only reason to finish. Even then, as I said, I saw what was coming a long way off.

This book was supplied by the publisher as a review copy.

The Golden Cross by Angela Elwell Hunt

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.

The Golden Cross is the second of four novels in the Heirs of Cahira O’Conner. The matriarch of the Irish clan promised that her heirs would “restore right in the world.” The heirs all share one thing with each other, other than their genes, their vibrant red hair with a solitary streak of white just above one ear. This book tells the tale of Aidan O’Connor who grows up on a Dutch colony in Indonesia in 1642. Her father died on the trip over from England leaving her mother and Aidan without any money or source of income and stranded on the island. The only way they can live is to turn to a life far below anything they ever thought they would endure.

As Aidan grows up she recognizes that she enjoys art but doesn’t have any hope that anyone would train her or help her out of her poverty. Until, that is, a famous artist comes to the colony to draw charts on an upcoming voyage. When the artist sees the raw talent latent in Aidan he reaches his hands out to pull her up so that she can see the beauty that she has inside and create the beauty of God’s creation through her art.

Though this book was written more than a decade ago (this is a reprint, which is why it costs less than a normal new fiction title) it holds up well as an exciting look into the past and as a romantic historical fiction novel. Though I don’t usually enjoy romance I found myself looking forward to continuing the story. The author does a good job of weaving together the action and adventure of a sea-going vessel riding storms and fighting natives with the requisite romance. I recommend it to fans of the genre.

This book was supplied by the publisher as a review copy.

Keeping The Feast by Paula Butturini

Paula Butturini and John Tagliabue, both foreign correspondents, met in Italy, fell in love, and married several years later. Shortly after their wedding they were given assignments in Communist Warsaw Poland. The time is at the beginning of the Polish revolution. John is critically wounded by a sniper’s bullet and their happy carefree life they had known in Rome no longer existed plunging them into a horrible nightmare of events.

Paula, in her own words, tells of her struggles to overcome John’s many surgeries, his bouts of clinical depression, his treatments by numerous psychiatrists,and the birth of their daughter. She is not only trying to survive John’s illness, but also the death of her mother by her own hands. Love, food and Italy is the sustaining factor throughout the entire book. One must read the book to see how the simple daily selection of food, preparing the meals, her memories of family dinners and the ritual of eating three meals together each day at the kitchen table played such an important role in the healing of two people and stabilized their very existence. The love of Italy’s countryside, good friends and good food healed a hurting family.

An enjoyable read, but lacked substance. One learns a lot about ‘old world’ Italian cooking and the role food plays in the lives of Italian families. The story clearly points how the simple ritual of selecting, preparing and eating food can become an important step in the healing process.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com. She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.”.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Sense and Sensibility, Insight Edition by Jane Austen

The story centers around two sisters – Elinor and Marianne Daswood. The love and loyalty between the sisters is astounding, but they do not understand each other. Elinor is a quiet, sensible and sensitive young lady cheerful and putting others first. Marianne is just the opposite. She has a quick temper, speaks before thinking, is often rude and is full of herself. Her wishes and desires come first regardless of who is hurt.

The family lives in late 18 century England where a person is judged by breeding and wealth, looking down on the working class. Circumstances change in the sisters lives and they are forced to move from the family homer to the country. Their half-brother has good intentions as to their welfare, but is overruled by his wife. Through the goodness of a distant cousins and friends, the sisters remain in polite society. Both have feelings for two gentlemen of the upper class, but whose feelings do not appear to be in their favor or any chance of marriage. What transpires in the lives of Elinor and Marianne along with their friends leads to some interesting conclusions.

Jane Austen has always been a favorite author of many. However, this is a reprint of the original book first published around 1811. The trivia and notes that highlight this “Insight Edition” in the right margin is very distracting, and at times I found the story rambling without anything worthwhile being said.

Jane Austen fans who want to reread the book will, no doubt, purchase the reprint for the interesting trivia, but I found it very hard to follow, due to the inserts in the margin, and to only hold my attention for short periods of time.

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

When Heaven Comes Down by Che Ahn

What drew me to this book was the promise of accounts of “firsthand experience of revival around the world.” By nature a skeptic, I want to believe more than anything! I want to see God’s face. One of my favorite verses in scripture is Mark 9:24, when a boy says, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” I sometimes feel overburdened with knowledge about God and lacking (and craving) intimacy with God but not always knowing how to get that. Che Ahn does provide personal stories about encounters with God, but ultimately, I think he misses the mark by focusing – I think – wrongly on what he calls the Glory of God.

Ahn’s thesis is that we can invite God’s Glory (yes, capitalized) and in so doing invite supernatural healing, interaction, and intimacy. I found, however, that his evidence was anecdotal at best. On pages 62 – 68 he gives several stories of healing and even raising someone from the dead. But in none of these instances is there any detailed proof or evidence other than Che Ahn’s word. It isn’t that I think he is lying, but if this book was written to those who do not already agree with him – those like me who are seeking intimacy – then he failed as those who do not already agree with him are too skeptical to change their minds based upon the word of an author they don’t personally know. In fact, in one situation that really stuck with me was where he prayed for a person injured and looking dead from a car accident. Ahn admits that the man was not dead but does nothing to dissuade onlookers from thinking that when the man moved he was raised from the dead! It is that kind of trickery that I am disillusioned with.

Overall, an interesting look through the eyes of a very charismatic preacher into the world as he sees it, but not anything that brought me closer to intimacy with God. Ultimately, I believe the book failed to live up to its promise to show me how I could experience the Glory of God.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Fool’s Gold by Melody Carlson


Hannah is a missionary kid (otherwise known as MK) from the island of Papua New Guinea north of Australia. She is visiting her Uncle’s family in America for the summer while her parents crisscross the country raising money to return to New Guinea. Her cousin Vanessa and Aunt Lori are shopaholics – obsessed with the latest fashion, designers and brand names. They are embarrassed by Hannah’s ‘Aussie’ clothes. Hannah feels lost and out of place with
Vanessa’s friends and the whole shopping scene.

Hannah takes a job with her Uncle’s company supposedly to earn money for her continued education in New Guinea. Soon her coworkers have her spending more money than she has, getting a credit card, and buying expensive clothes she neither needs or can afford. She becomes obsessed with fitting in with the crowd. She seems to have left her faith as well as her Bible behind in New Guinea as she strives to fit in with the other wealthy kids – living for the moment. Hannah is soon finds herself head over heels in debt and doesn’t know how to cope with her situation.

A must read to learn how Hannah solves her debt problem and returns to her faith. Did she come to recognize what she valued most? Did she learn that all that glitters is not gold? Melody Carlson has a excellent command of the minds of teenagers, especially the rich, and what influence peers have on each other.

Highly recommended for teenagers and parents. You will become a fan of Ms. Carlson.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Closer by Jim and Cathy Burns

Like many couples, my wife and I have read through – or at least started – many devotionals. Some are simple one-pagers that don’t bring much more than a kind of mini-sermon, while others like Closer give much more. Each of the 52 devotions has Bible reading, a quick story illustration, and then poignant questions that prompt discussion.

I found that working through the devotions with my wife that the book was really just a jumping off point. We spent much more time on the discussion questions. In this way, Closer was very successful in drawing me and my wife together.

The one part of the book that didn’t make a lot of sense to me was in only doing 52 devotions, one per week. If you are like me, even if you are busy, you probably want to do a devotion daily. I found that my wife and I would go through a new so-called weekly devotion each day. I understand that the authors did this so that they wouldn’t burden those of us with limited time, but I felt that a simpler 30 or 60 devotion span would have been easier for users who wanted to do devotions daily or over a period of time. And let’s face it – most of us don’t do this every day anyway.

Overall a good devotional. Not too heavy and not too light. Something that you can do every day or once a week. Above all, though, it is a great jumping off point for conversation – which is what really draws couples closer.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.