Category Archives: General Fiction

Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy

In the middle of the China Revolution, the Chang family is torn apart, tortured and then tragedy strikes again. When the third Chang daughter, Chang Kiaping, overhears her parents fighting she discovers her mother is pregnant again and her father wants her to abort it. Even though the daughters knew if they kept the baby that it would be taken and tortured by the Chinese government, they had to come up with a solution to keep that baby alive and they did.

Reclaiming Lily
by Patti Lacy
Bethany House
October 2011

The children brought to the orphanage remained unharmed and were given to better homes. So they decided to keep the baby a secret and when the Fourth Daughter was born, they took her to the orphanage. To be apart of their sister’s life, all the Change children volunteer their time to the orphanage and was able to see this baby sister everyday. That was until Andrew and Gloria Powell adopted her. Shortly after the adoption, their mother came down with a sickness that eventually took her life. Third Daughter was determined to find out what had taken her mother, so she studied, worked hard and when the opportunity to go to America came up, she took it. Once in America, she continued to study at Harvard where she graduated and then she discovered what has killed her mother.

PKD, Polycystic Kidney Disease, is the heredity disease that took her mother. Both of her older sisters have been tested and did not have it and she has never shown any signs of it either. Plus, she is a Kidney Specialist, so she is certain she would know the signs. However, the Fourth Daughter, Joy Powell, is unaware of what could be awaiting her.

After getting all the facts and paper work, she is ready to go to the Powells and share with them what she knows. It could mean life and death for their daughter, her sister. When she meets with them, they overcome all awkwardness and decided to work together and do what needs to be done. The bug question is; can Gloria and Dr. Kia work together and put aside their difference for Joy?

This story is a test of good faith, of learning to trust God and his path for you. Patti Lacy put all this into Reclaiming Lily. She shows us that people of difference cultures have similarities and can come together for a great cause. I truly loved this book and thought it is very moving and inspirational. It is a must read Christian novel.


Brittney Dodson is a stay at home mom who also works from home. She find reading free her from reality and the worries it brings.

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

Eighteen Acres by Nicholle Wallace

The majestic White House sets on eighteen acres situated in northwest Washington, DC – our nation’s capitol. Melanie Kingston has worked in the complex for the past fifteen years.

Eighteen Acres
by Nicholle Wallace
Atria Books
October 2010

Starting as an Intern – working her way up the ladder – she has worked for three presidents and seven executive assistants. Her present position is Chief of Staff to the 45th president – Charlotte Kramer, the first female president of the United States. She has been in office for three years and it is time to start thinking about getting re-elected. Her ratings are extremely low – she is still plagued by the Taliban and Pakistan war. Her marriage is on the rocks. Peter, her husband is having an affair with Dale, a young reporter and her presidency/administration is in trouble. In all this upheaval that threatens her presidency and national security, Charlotte fights for her people

President Kramer is scheduled to take a secret trip to Afghanistan to witness their first ever election. Dale is one of the reported scheduled to accomplish the president. In a final briefing on Air Force One she is told by her deputy national security advisor there is heavy fighting the US bases she is scheduled to visit and they are cutting several of the stops on the itinerary. Against his advice she proceeds to Marine One to make her first stop at a polling place to congratulate the Afghans on their truly free and fair election. Suddenly the first shots rang out. The president is flung into Marine One, but something is wrong – the chopper is unable to lift off. Secret Service transfers the president to the news helicopter and takes off. Marine One is hit by a ground-to-air missile and bursts into flames. All the news people survive, but Dale is seriously injured – she may not make it…

The book is about deception, infidelity and one tragic mistake. Can the president improve her rating and be re-elected? Can she win with the present Vice President or should she pick a new running mate – a woman perhaps. Does she even want to run again?

A very interesting novel about the inner workings of the White House. Ms. Wallace is uniquely qualified to write Eighteen Acres having spent five and one-half years working in the White House and it shows. Highly recommended.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, 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.

Sunset Park by Paul Auster

Miles Heller is employed as a trash-out worker cleaning out abandoned houses. He also takes photographs of all abandoned items – to document the last traces of scattered lives – vanished families.

Sunset Park
by Paul Auster
Picador
October 2011

Miles has fallen in love with Pilar Sanchez, a 17 year old high school student. This is frowned on by her sisters Maria and Angela. Maria is tolerant of the situation, but Angela wants Miles to take valuable items from the homes and give them to her. When he refuses, she threatens to go to the police and inform them that he is having sex with a minor. She also sends two goons to teach him a lesson that you don’t mess with Angela. In desperation Milers leaves Florida and goes to New York City where he lives with three other people (Alice,Bing and Ellen) in an abandoned house in Sunset Park.

Milers has an interesting background. His father is Morris Heller of Heller Publishing. His mother is the famous actress Mary-Lee. His parent are divorced and his father is now married to Willa. Morris and Willa had a son, bur he was killed in a tragedy car accident several years ago. Miles feels responsible for the death of his brother, leaves home and has been on the run for the past seven years.

You must read the book to see if Miles reconciles with his parents. Is he reunited with Pilar? What happens to Bing, Alice and Ellen? This is one of those books that you will find hard to put down. I loved reading Sunset Park.

Paul Auster is an outstanding writer of fiction as well as nonfiction. He has written several screenplays, a number of novels and a book of poetry. You might want to pick up some of his other books.

Highly recommended.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, 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.

The Orphan Sister by Gwendolen Gross

 As a triplet, Clementine Lord has always been a part of a set.  A quirk of biology left her sisters an identical pair and Clementine the odd one out.   When a secret their father has been harboring comes to light, the careful family fabric they have woven begins to unravel.   Clementine questions the secrets and the lives that each of her family members have lived.

Gwendolen Gross’s story takes us from Clementine’s past and the relationships she’s had with her sisters, mother, and father.  We learn about her greatest love, which was also her greatest loss.  As Clementine seeks to make sense of all that has happened, we are taken through her life as she tries to navigate an uncertain world.

I am going to be very honest here.  I wanted to like this book, I really did.  I had grand hopes for how it started out.  In the beginning, I expected Clementine to be very introspective and to be searching to find her answers and find her place.  After about 200 pages, she still hadn’t done it.  I didn’t feel like she had even gotten started moving on and taking control of her own destiny until around page 271 of 283. There were glimpses earlier that led me to think she would get there sooner.

Sadly, she didn’t.

Gross did a great job of building her story.  I just feel that the building continued for far too long.  It was like the anticipation that you feel when you are riding a roller coaster.  The cart climbs higher and higher.  The butterflies build and build, until you reach the summit and begin racing down.   This roller coaster never reached that summit.  You can only read so much “woe is me” before you look for your main character to begin to heal and move on.

Instead of getting this in the main character, you get it in Odette, one of her sisters.   Odette is the one who decides that she will no longer allow their father’s sins to dictate how she will live her own life.  She stops focusing her life on what he has done and how they will repair the damage to focusing on her new child and her own family.  Odette’s story is one I would like to read, as I prefer female characters who work to get over their struggles and tragedies and move forward.  They don’t forget the experiences, but they do work to use those experiences to become stronger.

Clementine would have gotten there.  Eventually.

 


Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. She describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.

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

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

After a battle with infertility, infant loss, and finally, a very tumultuous pregnancy, Jude Farraday gave birth to twins Mia and Zach. From that day on, Jude did everything she could to make sure her children were protected. She learned all of their friends, provided a place for them all to be together (under her watchful eye), and involved herself in nearly every aspect of their lives.

On the first day of high school, Mia befriends Lexi Baill, who has recently come to live with her Great Aunt after being shuffled from foster home to foster home most of her childhood. As they grow closer, Jude welcomes Lexi into her family. Eventually, Zach even admits that he has loved Lexi since he met her, and the three grow even closer.

One night. One poor decision. Everything changes, and lives are altered irrevocably.

What follows is a story that could easily be a “Behind The Scenes” look at the wake left behind when a tragedy occurs.

Prior to Night Road, I had not read any of Kristin Hannah’s novels. This is an oversight that I am glad I have rectified. The story that Hannah weaves is so intricate and detailed that you feel as though you have stepped into the lives of her characters. You feel the emotional turmoil; you are invested in how (if at all) repair can happen.

Hannah is most certainly a master at her craft. As her story progresses, you find yourself relating to those on both sides, unable to decide who is “right.” She takes you through the tragedy and the aftermath, leaving it up to you to draw your own conclusions.

If there is one downside to her story, it’s that it didn’t come with a warning label. I highly recommend having a box of tissues on hand for this one. You will certainly need them.


Robin Gwaro describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.

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

A Young Wife by Pam Lewis

An interesting read! A mother’s sacrifice, determination, betrayal, and love spanning three continents. The novel is based on the author’s grandmother’s life in a place called Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina.

A Young Wife
by Pam Lewis
Simon & Schuster
June 2011

Minke van Aisma is a fifteen year old living with her parents and sister in a small village in The Netherlands called Enkhuizen A wealthy distant relative. Sander DeVries, is coming today to offer Fenna a job taking care of his critically ill wife Elisabeth in Amsterdam. Minke is to stay out of sight – the job belongs to Fenna. A stranger in Enkhusian is rare indeed. Minke’s curiosity gets the best of her and she peeks in the kitchen to get a look. Sander spots her and calls her in. He takes one look at her and offers her the job. Fenna is devastated. She job belongs to her. Sander will not change his mind and Minke travels to Amsterdam to care for Elizabeth. Elisabeth is very ill and unkempt. – given doses of morphine to dull the pain. The sick room is dark and hot. She immediately sets things in order and makes Elisabeth comfortable. There are two grown children living in the house – Willem and Griet. Willem is a student and Griet is a spoiled brat. She doesn’t like Minke and tries to make her life miserable.

One morning Sander tells Minke he is taking her home. What did she do wrong – is it because she slapped Grit for stealing her mother’s morphine? She leaves Elizabeth with a heavy heart – to care for her. Sander tells her Elizabeth is dead. He is sailing for Argentine in a few days – everything is ready. He wants to marry her and take her with him. She is stunned – how can he think of marriage when his wife has only been dead a few hours. He will return in a week for her answer. Minke’s mother plans a large wedding, but Sander is late and they are finally married by breaking the ring. She is excited to be going on a large ship to Argentine. Elizabeth had told her about the grass blowing in the wind and the gauchos riding their beautiful horses.

Arrival in Comodoro Revadavia , Argentine is a shock to Minke – where are the gauchos and grass. The land is a barren desert. There isn’t even a town – just shacks – she is forced to live in the only hotel available – a bar with a tin roof and several rooms. Dr. Cassian Tredegar who accomplished them to Argentine sets up a morphine processing factory with the help of local boys. Sander builds her a new house, she has a beautiful baby boy, Fenna has come to stay. and she is again pregnant. Dr. Tredegar is severally beaten by persons unknown and Minke’s son Jef is kidnapped. Sander has gambled away their money – it is not safe for him anymore. He and Fenna will go to America, find jobs and secure them a beautiful home. Minke and Cassian will join them after the baby is born.

When Minke arrives in America she is stunned. There is no money, or house – only a tiny apartment in a very poor section of New York. To make matters worse, Fenna is pregnant. What has been going on here – how could Sander do this to her? She has gone from the opulent life in Amsterdam to rough living on the Argentine coast, to the impoverished life of a recent immigrant in New York. Life in America is not what she expected. Minke finds work with a wealthy family as a seamstress and leaves Sander. Minke learns from the newspaper that their friends from Argentina – Frederik and Tessa Dietz and their young son are in New York. The boy looks just like her Jef. With the help of her employer she is able to get her son back. Sander is not who she thought he was. He is a drunk, a liar, and a gambler. Sander sold Jef to the Dietzs.

She takes the children and returns to Comodoro Revadavis, Argentina. She secures a partnership with the local store owner as a seamstress. She and her children will make a good life on the Argentine coast.

Highly recommended. This is a journey you not soon forget. Pam Leis is an excellent writer – she makes her characters come alive. You will feel Minke’s joy, hopes and devastation as her life unravels. Most of all you will feel the hurt inflicted by her husband’s betrayal.


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.

The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly

A delightful book. The characters are descendants from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women – Jo March’s great-great granddaughters. Ms. Donnelly makes the characters absolutely live! A very entertaining read.

The Little Women Letters
by Gabrielle Donnelly
Touchstone
June 2011

Lulu Atwater is the middle daughter of Fee Atwater – a descent of the March family in Little Women. Jo March is her great-great grandmother. Lulu has a very good education – – having earned a university degree in science. She doesn’t like science or anything else to do with university. She is content to go from one small job to another. She will decide her future at a later date or not at all – it makes no difference to her. One day her mother Fee asked her to look in the attic to find some receipts for her Aunt Amy. These are recipes the March family used decades ago. Her great-Aunt Amy wants to have them published in some society newspaper. Lulu doesn’t find the recipes, but she finds something much more important which enriches her life.

Lulu has two sisters – Emily and Sophie. Emily is planning her wedding and Sophia is trying to launch her career on the London stage. Lulu is sort of in limbo. She is presently employed in an antique art shop. But the owner is selling the place. She doesn’t have a clue what she is going to do and is not too disturbed about the fact she will be jobless. One day when she and her sisters are having tea with their mother at the family home. Fee asked Lulu to look in the attic for some family recipes. Lulu is reluctant to go into the dirty attic, but does so at her mother’s urging. She can’t find the recipes, but stumbles across letters written by her great-great grandmother Josephine March to her sisters. There were four March sisters – J,. Amy, Meg and Beth. Beth died very young, much too soon, but the family never forgot her. Jo would write long letters to her – telling her about the happenings going on in the March family. Lulu spends every spare moment she can in the attic reading the letters. She is keeping her find a secret from the family. She wants to keep Jo’s letters all to her self.

Lulu and Sophie live with Charlie – a good friend. Lulu takes several uninteresting job, Sophie gets a small part In a TV soap opera and Emily continues to plan her wedding. Lulu spends a lot of time in the attic reading Jo’s letters. Her great-great grandmother, like Lulu, despaired of every finding love, having a home and family. Lulu meets Charlie’s brother. Sophia gets her big break and Emily has a wedding that will be remembers by all for a long time.

Lulu has decided to show the letters to her mother and sisters. A letters falls out of the box – a letter written especially to her from great-great grandmother Josephine March. Can this be possible – Jo writing to her?

If you liked Ms. Alcott’s Little Women – you will thoroughly enjoy this book! Ms. Donnelly expertly binds the March sisters with the present Atwater sisters. You will live Jo’s frustration as she writes about love and love and Lulu’s attempt to find solace and guidance in Jo’s letters. A must read – a keeper.

Highly recommended.


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.

GoD and DoG by Wendy Fransisco

You can find the oddest things on YouTube. Most of it junk or salacious in nature. But sometimes you find a true gem. GoD and DoG is one of those gems.

GoD and DoG
by Wendy Francisco
Center Street
September 2010

Francisco’s homemade two minute song and animated video has been viewed by millions of people on YouTube to near unanimous acclaim. The simple but profound lyrics and melody that sticks with you all day make it one of the best ways to spend a few minutes. (If you have a couple, click here.)

This gift book is a frame by frame adaption from film to paper, using the original artwork. The only thing it lacks is the cool Hallmark music card ability to sing the song when the cover is opened! This is a great story and a great truth that deserves our attention, and our decision to stop walking away.

An excellent gift.


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.

Freedom’s Stand by J.M. Windle

This riveting story is filled with people who seem so real. You almost forget that this is a fiction story. The devotion and sacrifice that each of the characters make all because they choose to follow the Lord. The author captures the culture of what it would be like living in country like Afghanistan. We take our freedom for granted in so many ways. This book will open your eyes to the struggles that others endure.

Freedom’s Stand
by J.M. Windle
Tyndale House
May 2011

Jamil was a jihadist until he met Isa Masih or as we know him Jesus the Messiah. Jamil’s is passionate to share the love of Isa Masih with the lost in his country of Afghanistan. He has a powerful testimony of faith. He was once full of hate for everyone but his bitterness has turned into compassion. Jamil is willing to share with others Isa regardless of the cost.

Amy Mallory is a relief worker. She has a desire to minister to women who are treated like property not a human being. She wants them to find freedom in Isa Masih. She is dismayed at the changes in the organization that she is working with. The changes could have a dramatic implication on the women and children in her care.

Special Forces Steve Wilson is searching for something yet he isn’t sure what it is until he observes the lives of Amy and Jamil.

Farah is a young woman in which this story begins with. She captured my heart. I could not imagine her plot in this story. Her pain and desire to be loved is enough to break your heart.

This story suspenseful, a little splash of romance, and packed full of faith in action. It will give you a glimpse into the daily life of the Afghanistan people. I don’t think my words can accurately describe this book. You will have to read it yourself. You will not be disappointed. The gospel is very prominent in this story. The story is 428 pages and well worth it. I would highly recommend this book.


ReneeK is a sweet tea addicted mamma who loves to cuddle up to a good book. She blogs at Little Homeschool on the Praire and writes about family, homeschooling, having a special needs child, and about whatever else tickles her fancy.

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

The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher by Rob Stennett

Ryan Fisher is a real estate agent who needs a boost in sales. The agnostic Fisher decides to take out an add in the local Christian directory with the Ichthus symbol, the Christian fish we see on cars and signs, prominently displayed and immediately sees results.

The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher
by Rob Stennett
Zondervan
2008

Wanting even more results, he and his wife decide to attend church to mingle with prospective buyers to keep up his new image as a “believer.” Recognizing the opportunity of the Christian market – and the money to be made there – Fisher and his wife relocate to Oklahoma to plant a church. A mega church.

Fisher creates a history for his new mega church pastor image, including seminary and prior pastorates, and sets to work creating his mega church. He hires a local songwriter (who puts Christian lyrics to popular songs) and a band, rents a carnival, and prepares his sermons all without input from God, Jesus or the Bible. His (what some Christians may call) seeker-sensitive style catches on and soon his popularity far surpasses even his wildest dreams. But the limelight is also a spotlight and his false past is quickly catching up to him as the local pastors, the media and concerned churchgoers all begin to take a closer look at the new superstar pastor. Oh, and there is his wife’s growing infatuation with his worship leader.

I won’t spoil the story for you, but suffice it to say it doesn’t end up how most Christian books do. Stennett takes Fisher on a ride that isn’t just almost true, but unfortunately, mostly true and also true a lot. And it never ends well.

Fisher, while not based on any individual, is reminiscent of many preachers today who seem to be after growth and monetary gain instead of spiritual truth. What I loved – and simultaneously hated – was that Fisher’s journey speaks to how gullible Christians can be and how wolf-like preachers can be. (Notice I said “preachers” not “pastors,” which are worlds apart sometimes and especially in this case.) Stennett’s book is a social commentary on how true Christianity is easily usurped by a slick presentation and feel good sermons and how Biblically illiterate believers can have a tough time knowing the difference.

The book is engrossing and engaging; I couldn’t put it down. Not only was it a spot on commentary, but also a hilarious (at times) satire. (See Fisher’s early attempts to be “Christian,” for example.) I recommend it highly for Christians who are interested in a good book with an excellent warning.


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 current events and Christianity.