Category Archives: Fiction

The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson

-Reviewed by Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer

Bartholomew Fortuno is a Curiosity residing and performing in Barnum’s American Museum located in Manhattan. He is the World’s Thinnest Man and believes his thinness is a unique gift. The War of Rebellion (commonly known as the Civil War or War between the North and South) has just ended and thing are slowly beginning to get back to normal. Matia is the fat lady and Barthy’s (as she calls him) friend and frequent companion. She resembles a great big porcelain doll. Some of the other Curiosities living at the museum are Richo the Rubber Man, Ally the Giant Boy and Emma the World’s Tallest Woman. After decades of performing, Barthy is losing his contentment.

Barthy liked to sit on the window sill in his room and watch the people and sites of Manhattan. One night some thing happens that turns his world upside down. A veiled lady alights from a carriage and enters the museum. Who is she and why is she here? Rumors are flying – is she a new performer or what? The troops later learn she is Iell Adams, a beautiful red haired lady with a gorgeous silky red beard. She will be performing daily in one of the special rooms in the museum.

Barthy is obsessed with Iell. Something is happening to him. He has eaten only string beans for decades, but now craves food. He is remembering parts of his childhood, especially his mother. Is his thinness really a unique gift or is there something his memory has been blocking out? Barthy find himself in love with Iell and his life in complete shambles.

One must read the book to learn how Barthy handles his love for Iell. What happens to the other Curiosities, and the museum. I found the book a very interesting read. Recommend for those of you who like a little magic, some make believe, some mystery and a curiosity for the odd and unique. You will be transported back to a time when uniqueness was entertainment and people flocked to see the oddballs.

Side Note: P.T. Barnum owned and operated the Manhattan Museum long before he founded his famous circus of today.

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

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Anne O’Sullivan is a 32 year old up and coming realtor. She is abducted on the day of her open house for the new condo development in Clayton Falls. She is taken to a remote cabin in the mountains and held prisoner. Her life is forever changed as she is forced to abide by the abductor’s rules, kept in a locked cabin, repeatedly raped and left alone for days.

The book will keep you spellbound from the first page to the last. As you read the book, you will feel Anna’s frustration and questions as she tries to survive living with a madman. The questions she wants answered is why – who is this person – and who is really behind her abduction. You will keep turning the pages (it is a book you can’t put down) to see if she is rescued, if she manages to outwit her abductor, and does she learn his identity. I recommend that you read the book to find answers to these questions.

The book is a compelling, sometimes funny, mostly sad and a heartbreaking novel that keeps you in suspense the the very end. It is a book you will devour, a tense thriller and completely believable as you feel Anna’s pain, her hopelessness and frustration.

Ms. Stevens is a very talented writer. Highly recommend this book to all adult readers.


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.

Ransomed Dreams by Sally John

Eliot Logan Montgomery III and his wife Sheridan are living their dream life. He is US Ambassador to Venezuela and she is involved in helping abused and battered women start a new life. It is opening day of their new Women’s Shelter in Caracas. Eliot is getting ready to cut the red ribbon. Shots rang out. At exactly 12 minutes 35 seconds past 10 o’clock in the morning Venezuela time Sheridan’s world ceased to exist. Her best friend is killed and Eliot is seriously wounded. She is lying face down on the sidewalk, injured but not life threatening and something heavy is on top of her. She can'[t breathe and someone is screaming. The screams are coming from her. Finally the weight lifts and she is being pulled to her feet in the shelter of two strong arms. He is getting her away from the pandemonium. Her rescuer is none other than Luke Traynor whom she believes to be a spy for the US government. Luke is constantly protecting her through her long days at the hospital during Eliot’s slow healing. Sheridan dubs Luke Angel Gabriel (or Gabe) after the famous Archangel Gabriel in the Bible.

Ransomed Dreams
by Sally John
Tyndale House
June 2010

They retreat to a small quaint village in Topala, Mexico, to hide from the world -. a place far off the beaten path – no phone service or other modern amenities. Eliot is barely surviving – he has good days and bad days. He is withdrawn, moody, afraid and sometimes spaced out – not hearing or seeing anything. On good days he is writing his memoirs about his childhood and being US ambassador,

One day, out of the blue, Sheridan’s Angel Gabe (Luke Traynor) arrives on their door step. How in the world did he find them and what does he want. They had not seen or heard from him since moving to Popala. No one is supposed to know where they are. This is where the novel becomes interesting. Sheridan’s sister Calissa has hired Luke to locate Sheridan and bring her back to Chicago. Her estranged father, Representative Harrison Cole, has suffered a severe heart attack, a stroke and is dying. Sheridan is reluctant to go with Luke. She doesn’t want to see her father and doesn’t care if he lives or dies. She cannot forgive him for his treatment of her. She is afraid to leave Eliot and her safe world. After much debate and probably such to spite Eliot (who does want her to go) she leaves with Luke for Chicago.

Sheridan’s life undergoes another startling change when she and Calissa discovers Harrison’s ugly past. Evidence that implicates him in a conspiracy, diamond smuggling. And the fact her deceased mother had been a prostitute. Questions Sheridan can not answer – was Eliot involved in Harrison’s dirty dealings? Did he know she was Harrison’s daughter when they first met? Who is Luke and what role does he play is all this, Does she learn the truth about her marriage and confront her feelings for Luke? How does an elderly priest – Padre Miguel- help heal their wounds and restore their faith in God. One must read the book to learn answers to these questions.

Ms. John is an excellent writer of general fiction. She puts the reader right in the midst of Elliot and Sheridan’s world – you feel their pain, fear and their lost dreams. I found the book refreshing, intriguing, sometimes sad, and sometimes uplifting. It is one you will stay up late reading so as not miss one minute in the daily lives of Eliot and Sheridan.

Highly recommended. Ms. John is a marvelous Christian author.


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.

GiGi, God’s Little Princess: Gigi’s Big Break by Sheila Walsh

This is a 2-episode Christian live action & animated DVD about GiGi – an only child.

In The White Lie, GiGi gets herself into trouble when she accidentally breaks her mother’s vase and lies about it. She tells one lie to her mother and another to her father. When they inform her she needs to go to the police and tell them she saw a kidnapping, a burgery and how the cat broke the vase, she owns up to the lie. She asks her parent’s forgiveness and also God’s forgiveness.

In the Pink Surprise, when GiGi is told she is to be a big sister she is happy. However, she listens when one of her friends tells her that her parents will not love her as much, not have time for her and will spend all of their time with the baby. Thinking she will be second best, she decides to go live with her best friend. Her parents tell her there are other blessing in life than being first and there will only be more love in their home. Having a sibling is a blessing from God.

This is an excellent Christian video. Recommended for children of all ages. It can be used to teach a Sunday school class or just lessons about honesty and loving your siblings, as well as loving God. Lying is a sin, your heart will become heavy with guilt, but God will always forgive you – you only have to ask. Parents, as well as God, always have enough love for you. The video can teach our children to love God, their siblings and to always tell the truth.

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

Support BookGateway.com by purchasing this DVD from Amazon.com.

Never Say Never by Lisa Wingate

Kai Miller and Donetta Bradford are two women with different lives, but a terrible hurricane in Texas will join them together for the rest of their lives. Kai is young, free spirited and teaches dancing on a cruise ship. Donetta is in the prime of her life, has a sweet southern personality, is in a disappointing marriage and is looking for adventure. A life and death situation binds them together and they ride out a hurricane evacuation together which lands them both in Daily, Texas, Donetta’s home town, with a group of church evacuees. This event changes their lives and effects their personal lives forever. Will Kai be able to accept who she is and let someone love her for her? Will Donetta be able to live with what her future holds for her marriage? This book was not one of my favorites. There were many times in the book where I read quickly through a section because I felt the author had already talked about that part of the story line. This caused the book to drag out more. There were some exciting parts and the ending does not end exactly how I thought it would go. There are also some good lessons in the book about controlling our behavior around people who are difficult to deal with. I would recommend this book for an easy read when you have the time.

This book was a free copy from the publisher.

Never Far From Home by Mary Ellis

Emma Miller is a young Amish girl turning sweet sixteen. At her birthday party she shocks her family by announcing she want to take her full Rumspringa. This is the time Amish boys and girls are allowed to experience the English (or Englischer as they are called) world before being baptized into the faith. Emma is a hard working young teenager with her own wool business. She sells her products to Mrs. Dunn who owns the “Stitch In Time” boutique. Emma has met James Davis Jr, a young Englischer farmer who often makes deliveries to the boutique. She has feelings for James, and feels guilty: the worlds of the Amish and Englischers are too far apart. Her father, would never approve of her courting James.

Emma is very close to her Aunt Hannah who recently married her Uncle Seth. They are both raising lambs, both are in the wool business, both selling their products to Mrs. Dunn. She longs to talk with Hanna about James, but doesn’t want to put her in the middle. Emma’s father is “Old World” Amish and a deacon. When he learns of her associated with James from an Amish harness maker, he is really upset and forbids her to see him. He cannot understand why his daughter would want to associate with an Englischer, let alone have feelings for him. This goes against all he believes in. There are several good Amish young men she can court when it is time.

Readers will enjoy living Emma’s daily life as she agonizes over her feelings for James, the desire to obey her parents, her God, and not to bring shame to her family. You will cry, laugh and rejoice with the family as they cope with the debilitating illness of her mother, Emma’s long recovery from a terrible accident involving her buggy and a truck. Does she reconcile her problems with her father? Does Emma leave her faith and become English or does James convert to Amish? Talk with the family as they live their daily lives. Hanna prays for a baby, Emma’s mother prays for relief from her illness, and Emma prays for guidance and understanding. Is James the one person God has planned for her? Can she truly wait for God’s timing and accept his will?

Ms. Ellis is an excellent writer of romance fiction. She seems to have a firm understanding of the Amish’ beliefs and their way of life. Highly recommend for all readers.

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

Plain Jayne by Hillary Manton Lodge

Jayne Tate is a staff reporter writing for the “Oregonian” newspaper and residing in Portland, Oregon. When her boss calls her into his office, she is sure is getting the prime assignment to go to Miami. Instead she is told her work is slipping, too many rewrites, and he suggests she take a few weeks of vacation to get her act together. He has given the assignment to another reporter. Her father has recently passed away and her boss thinks she is still grieving. Jayne know this is not true. She is estranged from her family and has been for some time. However, she keeps quiet – he can believe what he wants. Jayne is devastated about missing out on the assignment though – what will she do with all that time? She can’t relax on the weekends let alone for three weeks.

Jayne is a motorcycle riding gal. She owns a 2008 Triumph Bonneville. She fires up her bike and goes for a ride to clear her mind. She doesn’t get far – she spots a bookstore and stops to browse. A magazine catches her eye – there is an article about the Amish. She buys the magazine and returns home. An idea – there is a story, here, or maybe a series, and she is the one to write it, proving to her boss she is still his best reporter. The Internet reveals an Amish community just outside of Albany.

Jayne tells her friends and boyfriend what she plans to do, cranks up her Triumph and starts out for the adventure of her life. Reaching Albany she picks the name Levi Burkholder, an Amish carpenter and owner of his own business, out of the phone book. Making contact with Levi, she tells him she is a reporter and wants to do a story on the Amish people. She wants to stay with an Amish family to learn their ways.

Levi is clearly smitten by Jayne and takes her to an Amish family who agrees to let her stay for a few weeks. Jayne is unaware this is Levi’s family. He left home before being baptized into the faith, wanting something more than what the Amish community could provide. Wanting to be closer to his family, he left the corporate world, returning to Albany and started his carpentry business. He has kept in touch with his mother, but is shunned by his father who won’t even speak to him. The longer Jayne stays with the family, the more she is convinced the plain and simply life of the Amish is for her. Maybe she should try to reconnect with her family. Perhaps they didn’t hate her or blame her for all the problems.

I highly recommend you read the book to learn Jayne’s fate. Does she become Amish? How does her boyfriend fit into her new life style? Does she cultivate a relationship with Levi? Does she reconcile with her family? Readers will thoroughly enjoy their journey with Jayne – a tea drinking, motorcycle rider determined to prove to her boss that she is still his best reporter.

Ms. Lodge is an excellent writer of romance fiction. She has a firm grasp of the Amish community and their beliefs. The book is certainly an eye-opener and one you will find hard to put down.

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

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron

Chase Falson is the founding pastor of the largest contemporary evangelical church in New England. After graduating from seminary, he headed east to start a church in Thackeray, Connecticut. Everyone thought he was crazy – New England is commonly called “the graveyard of preachers”. He not only founded a new church, but saw it grow to a weekly attendance of over three thousand worshipers.

Things were going great – right. Not so, Chase had become disillusioned. He is reaching a spiritual crisis in his faith and asking the question – there must be something beyond the evangelicalism island he lived in. To top things off, behind his back his student ministries’ pastor is aiming for his job.

Things come to a head one Sunday morning when he goes completely off script and loses it. He tells the whole congregation he has lost his faith and there must be a better way to serve God than the way the church is going. As a result, the Elders suggest he take some time off to get himself together. He is not allowed to speak with any of the members or his staff.

The question – now what is he to do? After three days of not leaving his condo, the idea comes to him to call his Uncle Kenny. Kenny not only had left the Conservative Baptist fold and became a Catholic but a Franciscan priest, living in Florence, Italy. Kenny suggested he come to Italy for a visit.

This is where the story becomes intriguing. Kenny is taking Chase on a pilgrimage through the teaching of Saint Francis of Assisi. Leaving Florence, they journey to Assisi where they meet up with Kenny’s three friends who are Franciscan priests – Brothers Bernard, Peter and Thomas. (Brother Bernard reminded me of Hagrid in Harry Potter movies.) They are delighted to meet Chase and enthusiastically join in the pilgrimage. Their first stop is the Chapel of San Damino. This is the chapel where Francis heard Jesus speak from the cross. He told Francis to repair his church. Francis, a man of noble birth and wealth, left his family and his privileged life to live in poverty, and to do what Jesus had asked of him. With the help of the brothers, books, articles and places, Chase starts his spiritual journey in the footsteps of Francis of Assisi who was the first post modern Christian .

As you read the book, you find yourself going step by step with Chase as he experiences the teaching of Francis. Will Chase convert to the Catholic religion? What will happen to his church when he returns? Will he change the church’s beliefs or be out of a job?

I found the book hard to put down, I could hardly turn the pages fast enough . The story held my interest and kept me enthralled and (I hope) brought me closer to God. I can’t recommend this book too highly. Everyone should take this pilgrimage with Chase and Francis.

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

Hunter’s Moon by Don Hoesel

CJ Baxter is a bestselling novelist from the small town of Adelia, NY, but now resides in Tennessee. His novels are mostly about his own experience growing up in the Baxter family. Lyndale is the ancestral home where the Baxters have lived for centuries. CJ left home at seventeen and has not been back for almost three decades.

CJ is returning to Adelia because his grandfather is dying – the only person he has kept in contact with over the years. CJ is having problems. His wife has kicked him out, changed the locks and kept his dog. Before he leaves Tennessee, he breaks into his former home and steals the dog. This results in the police issuing a warrant for his arrest.

The Baxters have a secret – one that has haunted CJ since the age of ten. He knows the truth, but has been reluctant to face his father who has covered this up for years. CJ’s return is not a joyful reunion. His family is secretive, have their own agenda, and are skeptical of CJ’s motives. His brother Graham is running for the Senate. The last thing he wants is for the secret and his other underhanded deals to become known. CJ has been hired to write an article on Graham’s candidacy and the whole Baxter clan is concerned about what he will reveal.

The longer CJ stays in Adelia, the worse things become. He finds himself having unhealthy thoughts concerning his high school sweetheart. The one he left decades ago and is now married to his cousin. One must read the book to learn how CJ handles this situation and all the other problems he faces. To what length will the Baxters go to get what they want. Blood may be thicker than water, but its no match for money and power.

Highly recommend this book. It is one that you can’t put down – the suspense is addictive. Don Hoesel is an excellent writer of fictional suspense.


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.

A Kiss for Cade by Lori Copeland

Cade is a bounty hunter, the town of Winterborn, Kanasas’ most notorious citizen. He has a reputation of having the fastest draw, bringing a number of outlaws to justice. He left his own town fifteen years ago, leaving his sweetheart Zoe behind. He is only returning now due to the death of his sister and brother-in-law. His sister’s dying wish is for Cade to return and make the decision as to whom will raise her four young children. Zoe is very close to the children and can’t understand why Addy did not give her the children. Even though it goes against everything she holds dear, Zoe respects Addy’s wish and sends for Cade.

A Kiss for Cade
by Lori Copeland
Harvest House
January 2010

According to Zoe, a bounty hunter is not a person to raise children or to make a decision as to what is best for them. After all, Cade has never been back since leaving and he won’t stay this time. She will fight him for the children as they are all she has – Zoe’s husband was killed in a bank robbery.

How will Cade’s return affect her life and the children? She has loved Cade for so long, how will she cope with his return? Has he changed from the boy she knew or has he become hardened with the life he lives? Does Zoe get the children, or will Aunt Laticia get her way? What happens between Cade and Zoe?

One must read the book to see how things play out. The book is one you can’t put down, keeping you in suspense to the last page. You will learn how the whole town helps Cade reach his decision. I highly recommend the book for all readers. You will be enthralled by Ms. Copeland’s ability to put you right in the middle of the situation. You will laugh, cry and rejoice with Zoe and her friends, even experience an old fashion middle of the street gun fight. Ms. Copeland is an excellent writer of romance fiction.


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.