Category Archives: Fiction

Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze

-Reviewed by Scott Asher of AshertopiA

When Susan walks into the Crossroads Crisis Center looking like a dead woman the mystery is on. And it doesn’t stop until the final pages!

Susan was abducted and beaten, but other than that she doesn’t remember anything from her past – not even her name. When she sees a portrait of Susan Brandt on the wall at Crossroads Crisis Center she can’t help but realize that she looks just like the dead woman. She even has a cross necklace that looks just like the one in the picture.

Benjamin Brandt, the owner of the crisis center, hasn’t entered the building since his wife & son’s death. But when the woman calling herself Susan, looking like her and wearing her necklace goes in he has to follow. Soon they find themselves at the center of a far larger plight than they could imagine.

Fans of Vicki Hinze’s romance and thriller novels will love her first foray into Christian fiction. What begins with mystery moves quickly into a thriller worthy of readers’ attention.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the non-Christian sensibilities that were brought to the Christian medium. Too often in Christian fiction thrills are muted, mystery is easily resolved and a G rating is firmly stamped from page one. I liked that characters died – and not just bad guys. I liked that characters were genuinely evil, that they thought like real people; they weren’t easy caricatures. I liked that drugs, alcohol, sex and more played a part in the story. In short, I liked the gritty realism brought to the genre by Ms. Hinze that is all too often missing from other so-called Christian thrillers. And all the while, real faith shines through.

Decidedly PG-13, I loved this book. Highly recommended for believers and non-believers.

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

The Bridegrooms by Allison Pittman

-Reviewed by Lori Stilger of Heavenly Perspective Photography

Tragedy hits the Allenhouse family on a hot summer night in Ohio when a mother of four vanished. Eight-year-old Vada virtually grew up overnight and raised her three younger sisters while her father lost himself in his medical practice in the basement of their home.

Now, Vada is a grown woman, still making her home with her father and sisters. Her days are spent serving as an errand girl for Cleveland’s fledgling amateur orchestra.

Dizzying change occurs the day the Brooklyn Bridegrooms come to town to play the Cleveland Spiders and a line drive wallops the head of a spectator. The fan is whisked to the Allenhouse parlor, and questions swirl about the anonymous, unconscious man.

Suddenly, the subdued house is filled with visitors and Vada’s sisters are giddy at the bevy of possible suitors. Vada’s life is awakened amid the super-charged atmosphere of romantic opportunity.

This book is an easy read; from the beginning, Pittman grabs your attention. If you’re female, that is – I don’t think this is a “guy” book by any stretch of the imagination.

I found myself comparing this story to Little Women frequently. There are four sisters, one present parent, a (rather bossy) housekeeper, and close to the same time period. There were enough differences in the storyline, however, that that comparison didn’t arise too often.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s got its moments of humor, and moments of sadness. There’s just enough detail to invite the reader into the grand picture of the book without bogging one down. The personalities of the four sisters, especially, are beautifully distinctive.

Ms.Pittman took, what was for me, a surprising view at the end of the book. I am still struggling with it, to be truthful – and that’s one of the signs of a good book for me.

I would recommend this book, especially if someone wants to discuss it with me!

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

The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw

Jed McClatchey is having an affair with Marcella Atkinson. Jed is visiting his sister for the summer, staying at their deceased parents’ home on the Cape. While looking for a tennis racket, he finds a swimming suit in a box in the bottom of his parents’ bedroom closet. He vaguely remembers Marcella wearing the suit when attending his parents’ summer parties. How is the world did it get in the closet and why in a wrapped box. On a hunch he decides to confront Marcella with the suit. They seem to hit it off and several visits later the affair begins.

The Swimming Pool
by Holly LeCraw
Doubleday
April 2010

Marcella is divorced from ex-husband Anthony and estranged from her daughter Toni. Toni just happens to be Nanny to Jed’s niece and nephew. Toni sort of has crush on Jed, but he only sees her as the children’s Nanny. He is too wrapped up in Marcella even though she is several years older than he is.

Callie, Jed’s sister, has never fully recovered from her mother being murdered and the crime had never been solved. Their father, Cecil. before his death had been an uncharged suspect. She has suicidal tendencies and sometimes goes off the deep end. Jed is really concerned about the children’s safety. Billy, the children’s father, works on the mainland and visits on weekends.

Did Marcella have an affair with Cecil? Did Anthony know or suspect she had been unfaithful? Does he know about Jed and Marcella? Who murdered Betsy and why? Recommend you read the book to learn the answers to these questions.

The Swimming Pool is a gripping, passionate, intriguing novel full of lies and family secrets. Betrayals of the past cannot be ignored. The story will keep you turning pages – it will complete captivate you. Ms. Lecraw is an excellent author. 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.

Shoot to Thrill by P.J. Tracy

This is a Monkeewrench novel. Monkeewrench is a group of computer nerds who can hack into any program – national or international. They stay just ahead of the law. The local police and FBI have a situation. In this most recent book, the crew is called in by the FBI to determine if there may or may not be murders being committed across the country and then published on the web. The authorities need to know if the murders are real or computer generated fakes. There have been several real murders in the past few months, but are they connected to these on cyberspace?

The story will keep you turning pages. This is a book that is hard to put down! The novel has generous doses of humor and suspense. Are all the murders real or fake? If real, are they being committed by one person or several? Who is putting these on cyberspace? Can Monkeewrench help the FBI and the local PD solve the mystery?

The mother-daughter team of Patricia J. and Traci Lambert (P.J. Tracy) are excellent mystery writers. You will want to read all their Monkeewrench novels.

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.

Radical Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream by David Platt

I was reading the first chapter of this book and was interrupted while doing it. The whole time I was taken away from the book, I kept thinking about what the author was talking about and I couldn’t wait to get back to the chapter! I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book and sharing it with others. Especially my pastor. If you are interested you can request a free copy of the companion book The Radical Question at:

www.WaterBrookMultnomah.com/RadicalQuestion

You can also check out the first chapter, like I did, at: www.RadicalTheBook.com

She’s So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

Home is Where the Hate is…

 So begins the quick blurb on the back of She’s So Dead to Us.  In this novel, Ally Ryan is returning home after stealing away with her family in the middle of the night.  Ally’s father was responsible for a financial downfall that impacted many of the once affluent families in the Ryan’s social circle.  Once they left, Ally’s father also abandoned both her and her mother.  Ally’s mother has decided to move them back to their home town.  What ensues is a story with depth of feeling and one that leaves you wanting more.

Kieran Scott does a magnificent job of capturing the turmoil that is the teenage years.  It is easy to relate to each of the characters in the novel.  While you might not like some of them, Scott does ensure that you at least understand why each acts as he or she does. While many other authors attempt to lean on youth as justification for poor behavior, Scott does not reduce her characters to simply being too young to know better.  Each faces the consequences of his/her decisions with an awareness that belies each person’s age in years.  Scott shows that not all teen characters need to be written as vapid or shallow.

As the story progresses, Scott’s characters reveal the motive behind actions.  She shows us that not always do the adults act with decorum and tact.  There is actually a point where the teenagers surpass the adults in this story in terms of maturity.  Scott proves through this novel that it is possible to write a story that actually uplifts teens and shows they can overcome the challenges they face in their lives.  She does so without reducing them to whining, self-absorbed individuals that other writers do. There are points in the novel where Scott shows the contradiction of the age at which her characters are.  They are in one instance dealing with infidelity and in the next trying to hand on to their youth.

The only con I can list for this novel is that it ended too quickly!  Scott has set the novel up for a sequel, which is both good and bad.  Good because I want to see where she takes the story.  Bad because now I have to wait.

This book was provided free of charge as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. No payment was provided in return for this review. 

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.

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