Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Bullies by Shapiro

Book 17 of 2018: Bullies by Ben Shapiro. I’d read political books by Bill Clinton, Al Gore, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, (and I highly recommend this,) and historical memoirs, (like Booker T. Washington’s earlier this year, ) but never a political book by someone who hasn’t been in the White House or been that close to power, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Bullies
By Ben Shapiro
Simon aand Schuster
January 2013

The first thing I noticed was how dated this book was. It was published at the start of 2013, right after the second election of Barack Obama. So many of the characters named, people and organizations, are no longer in the news daily. And several controversies have been resolved, even if only because of time passed.

But the topics are still timely. You may not be Republican – and I include myself here – but the attacks and tactics Shapiro discusses are relevant today even more than they were five years ago. Free speech, the freedom of religion and the exercise of religious practice, and disagreeing agreeably are constantly under attack in the zeitgeist on college campuses and public square where speakers, especially non-far left speakers who toe the ideological neo Marxist line, are deplatformed, slandered and even attacked physically. The calls for thought control and speech control are shockingly “1984” but for some reason we are ignoring the past and seem doomed to repeat it.

I’m not ideologically aligned on several points that Shapiro espouses but I would never suggest he doesn’t have the right to express his opinion. And in the end, that’s why I read books like this or by ex- Presidents on both sides of the political spectrum. I find that most of them make some good points and I grow in respect and empathy for some people that I may not have agreed with previously. In fact, I still may not agree with them or perhaps what they did, but understanding their perspective is important.

I like how Shapiro ends his book quoting E Pluribus Unim, “out of many, one” as the goal. As Americans, we may have a lot of differences but we are all on in the same boat. Listening to each other with respect and empathy will strengthen our unity and perhaps put the chill on all the divisiveness in our culture.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Up From Slavery by Washington

Booker was born a slave on a plantation in Alabama. He died the president of a university and one of the most celebrated men in America.

Up From Slavery
by Booker T. Washington
1901

This is a fascinating autobiography by an important fight in American history! The first few chapters, especially, give a history of the end of slavery and the first 25 years after emancipation from the perspective of a former slave that are indispensable! Later chapters focus more on Washington’s accolades and the growth of Tuskegee University and aren’t as interesting, except for certain events.

This is a book worth reading and one all Americans should read for the history and also Washington’s attitude and philosophy, which I think still matters: educate yourself, gain skills, work hard. Rise up.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Abolition of Man by Lewis

This very short collection of lectures is a fascinating look at a mid last century argument against, what I believe we now call, postmodernism.

The Abolition of Man
by C.S. Lewis
1943

Lewis argues most vigorously against the attack on reason that a couple authors of a school text make, knowingly or not. The idea that sets Lewis off is a seeming rejection of objective reality; that things are objectively true regardless of our opinions. He carefully makes his argument without referring to Christianity or any religion at all, but falls back on what he calls the Tao or – and Lewis readers will recognize this one – natural law.

This argument is a winning one, but unfortunately we see that nearly 80 years later society has embraced it. Postmodernism and relativism rule academia and culture. “My truth” and “your truth” are accepted even though they don’t exist, objectively. “That’s how you see it” or “That’s your opinion” have not only been shown to be as destructive as Lewis anticipated but lead to exactly where he warns us: the death, or abolition, of all objective knowledge.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Kobane Calling by Zerocalcare

A graphic art non-fiction account of the artists visit to Northern Syria / Rojava (Kurds) and first hand account of his impressions on the factions currently at war.

Kobane Calling
by zerocalcare
Lion Forge
October 2017

I don’t accept the stories as gospel, because there is simply too much confusion and propaganda on all sides. But I do accept these stories as his experiences and will continue to dig deeper into this crazy abyss that currently has so many nations in a sort of proxy war over this area. It was fascinating and, if true, heartbreaking. Definitely worth taking a look at.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Patterns of Evidence: Exodus

Did the Exodus from the Bible actually happen? Many say there is no evidence, but what if the time frame that they were looking for evidence was wrong? That’s what this documentary wants us to consider.

Patterns of Evidence: Exodus
by Timothy P. Mahoney
Thinking Man Films
August 2015

A well made and intriguing documentary – if you dig archaeology – the film provides what it sees as evidence of the Exodus happening earlier than most current archeologists believe. By changing the expected date, according to the film, the Exodus fits the evidence almost perfectly. I’ve watched this film several times and find the “evidence” compelling. The problem is that there is almost no documentation outside of this film to fact check.

I’ve looked for more information on what I think is a fascinating find that deserves more information: the pyramid tomb of someone who may be Joseph. But outside of links to and about this film it is hard to find more information on that. What I would like to see, and what I think is very important, are follow-up about the evidence itself. This is the problem with most documentaries: are you telling me a story or are you presenting facts. I’m not sure.

The only works cited I can find on the documentaries website are a bunch of books by David Rohl. Dr. Rohl, according to Wikipedia, is an Egyptologist who has been putting forth theories like the early dating of the Exodus since the 1980s. (He has also put forth his theory of where the Garden of Eden would have been – next film, maybe?) What is interesting about Dr. Rohl is that he is not a Christian so what he says isn’t easily dismissed as biased. But minority opinion is still a fair label. Whether he is right or not may not be knowable at this time.

In the end we have a documentary that makes a strong, if somewhat unsubstantiated, case for an early dating of the Exodus that kept my attention twice so far and has intrigued me so much that I may end up reading Dr. Rohl on the topic. I recommend it.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

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

The Journey by Sanna

As I lay down on the ground with my 7 and 10 year old boys to read this book I considered the reasons for doing so. This book is not your typical children’s book with an upbeat and happy story. This is a story about war, death, destruction, fear, migration and refugees. Why should I read this to my young boys? Because I want them to understand the crisis and to empathize with those who have lost almost everything. Empathy is so powerful and it’s so lacking in the world today.

The Journey
by Francesca Sanna
Flying Eye Books
September 2016

We took turns reading the beautifully illustrated pages about the war (obviously Syria based on the starting point and the journey). The reading level was higher than my first grader but fine for my fourth grader. As we finished, I took a minute to unpack this for them. We discussed what happened and what it would be like to live through this. I explained that this is a true story and it really happens. I showed them before and after pictures of the destruction in Syria (careful to avoid pictures of casualties and injuries). “Why don’t we stop this?” they asked. I said it wasn’t that easy. In language they could understand I told them about the crisis and encouraged them to care and to pray for these people.

Hours later when they told mom about this story they were still upset that we couldn’t save these people – the nearly 6 million displaced, the over 4 million refugees, and the nearly half a million deaths. My hope is that thanks to a book like this children and their adult readers can come to empathize and care. That this isn’t just a news story that can be ignored.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

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

My First Book of Hockey by Sports Illustrated

Almost everything you need to know about hockey.

My First Book of Hockey
A Rookie Book: Mostly Everything Explained About the Game
Designed by Beth Bugler
Sports Illustrated
September 2016

This children’s book contains cut outs of photos of real players that are used to describe action and how the game is set up. There is a cartoon little boy who shows up occasionally to allow your child to connect and see themselves in the game. It covers very basic information, like how many players, what happens at face offs, scoring and some fouls. Exactly what a young person needs, in my experience.

My youngest guy, who is 7, is taking part in our local NHL team’s training program for new and have never played kids and so this book was my attempt to help acclimate him to that and to his first visit to watch a game live. It was very easy for him to follow along with and to get an idea of what he was watching and what he would be doing. The pictures had just enough visual appeal to keep interest (although as an adult, I found the pictures boring and sometimes out of context, but it’s not for me.)

I recommend this to others who want to introduce their children to the basics. I found it helpful.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

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

What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps by Guthrie

Timely advice, unfortunately.

What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)
By Nancy Guthrie
Crossway
September 2016

I read this book a couple months after my father died and about the time that my wife’s grandmother died. I wasn’t sure how to respond and whether or not how I felt about how others responded to me was normal or not. This book answered those questions.

Guthrie does a great job of explaining why we should or shouldn’t say something or anything. Each section has details on why she is making the case for the response she recommends in certain situations and then she does an admirable job of sharing her own story of loss to bring the message home. While that would be the end of it in most books, Guthrie goes a step further and includes actual quotes from others who went through grieving and what worked for them and what didn’t. I found these parts the most eye opening. Some of the quotes seem reasonable but the way they came across to a hurting person was surprising and enlightening. They also served as a warning. I don’t want to make those mistakes when I’m speaking to friends about losses.

The only place I felt this book fell short was in the redundancy. I felt that after the first few chapters a lot of what Guthrie said was already said. I got the point early on and then felt it became repetitive to the point that I ended up skipping through the mid to end part, reading the examples but skimming the author’s content. This could have probably been an even shorter book that it was. Whatever the case, the beginning is worth the price of admission.

I used specific tactics learned here with my wife and also with a friend who lost his mother. They worked. They understood how much I cared and really opened up about their loss. This book will help you gain very effective was of communicating.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

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

8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids by Dr. Cartmell

8SimpleToolsForRaisingGreatKids_3DWe all know how to be great parents, right? That’s why our kids are coming out perfectly and they never have any trouble. Oh, wait…

8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids
by Dr. Todd Cartmell
Moody Publishers
January 2015

The title says 8 tools, but in reality the author includes 40 tools in 8 categories. Each of the 40 small chapters is about 3 pages long, many starting with an anecdote from counseling children or his own life and including simple ideas for overcoming the challenge.

In fact, my favorite parts of this book were the stories from his counseling. Listening to children say things that no parent would ever want to hear of themselves is motivating and convicting. Nearly every chapter I found something I should do better.

For that reason and others I highly recommend this ready to read and digest book.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

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

Under The Sea Holy Bible and Giveaway

undertheseaIn a sea (heh) of Bibles, the Under The Sea Holy Bible is a nice addition to the kid’s section of Bibles.  It’s in an easy to read format designed to help children connect with Biblical concepts.

Under The Sea Holy Bible
Zonderkidz
March 2016

Bright colors and sparkly glitter adorn the cover of this Bible, meant for children.   This is not an ordinary children’s Bible, in that it is the full text from Genesis to Revelation.  Many children’s Bibles are abbreviated stories highlighting the “heroes” of the Old Testament or focusing solely on Christ’s miracles in the New Testament.

This Bible is also written in the New International Reader’s Version.  A foreword discussing this NIrV version mentions that it is an extension of traditional NIV.  Its purpose is to make reading (and understanding) the Bible easier for children, adults learning to read, first time Bible readers, readers whose first language is not English, and those who have trouble understanding what they read.

A cursory glance of verses with which I’m familiar shows the meaning of the verse is virtually unchanged by adapting it from KJV.  The foreword also mentions that the translators worked to reference the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament as they worked to create the NIrV in an effort to maintain the integrity of this translation.

The remainder of the Bible is just that:  NIrV of the full Bible text.  There is also a dictionary and an index of “Great Bible Stories.”  These two sections could be greatly improved.  The dictionary is only 5 pages long, and the Great Bible Stories section is a list of 92 common Bible stories.  Both of these could be very much extended for referencing.  This would allow the Bible to work for children as they age.

This Bible also has a few inserts related to important concepts:  prayer, the 10 Commandments, love, and important children in the Bible to name a few.  Here’s where I would also like to see an expansion.  There are only 3 of these inserts in the whole Bible.  The last one is the ABC’s of becoming a Christian.   The Bible would appeal much more to children if there were more of these relevant passages included throughout the Under The Sea Holy Bible.

All in all, this is a very nice starter Bible for children.  It has the basics needed for a 3rd or 4th grader.   As a child gets older and begins to explore more, it is a Bible that would need to be replaced with one that has more expansive passages and explanations about concepts throughout.

 

Want a copy of your own?  I have partnered with Fly By Promotions to provide this review AND a chance for you to have a copy of your own!  Just leave a comment below telling me what Bible verse is your favorite to share with children.  I’ll draw a winner on April11th!  The winner will get his/her own copy of the Under The Sea Holy Bible.

___________________________________________________________________________

Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 3rd grade science nerd and toddler aged busy body. You can visit her world of randomness at justwanderingnotlost.net, where there is no spoon.

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