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2011 BookGateway.com Booky Awards

BookGateway.com is pleased to announce the books of the year award, the Bookys, for books published in 2011!

The Booky is awarded annually by the editors of BookGateway.com, a book review website for reviewers and book bloggers founded in 2010 with the express goal of encouraging a lifestyle of continued learning through the love and practice of reading. The Booky awards recognize the best books published and reviewed at BookGateway.com during the preceding year. Each reviewer that submits at least 10 reviews during the calendar year and each Founding Member of BookGateway.com can nominate books for Booky award recognition. Final decisions are made by the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com, Scott Asher. All Booky award winners will be featured for the month of January at BookGateway.com.

In alphabetical order:

Crossed by Allie Condie
Dutton Juvenile | November 2011
Nominated by Arieltopia: “I absolutely loved this book… I can not wait to read the next one and find out what happens next. The complex story structure insures that the reader never becomes bored. There is always something happening and some sort of looming terror nearby. The entire time I was reading the book I was filled with apprehension and suspense.”

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
Simon Pulse | February 2011
Nominated by Robin Gwaro: “Keaton keeps the reader guessing right until the very end. Darkness Becomes Her is in no way short on surprises and leaves you wanting more! I cannot wait to see what happens to Ari and her friends.”

Embassytown by China Mieville
Del Rey & Random House Audio | May 2011 | Read by Susan Duerden
Nominated by Scott Asher: “Filled with intrigue, the shadow of war, action, and adventure Embassytown flows with uncommon depth and intelligence. This isn’t a book about those things, but rather a book about language and what language means more than anything else that includes those things. No doubt on purpose, this books language is one that the reader participates in as we learn the language of the world that China Mieville has created for us. The revelations, growth and change that accompany our characters through the story give the reader a satisfaction that is lacking in so much science fiction.”

Fury by Elizabeth Miles
Simon Pulse | August 2011
Nominated by Robin Gwaro: “As I was reading, there were points where I had chills up my spine, a sure sign of that anticipation that keeps me on edge when I am reading. What is also unique about Miles’ book is how she has built reality into her fiction, in that not everyone gets a second chance to get it right. In life, we don’t always get a chance to right our wrongs, so it might be helpful to prevent the wrongs in the first place.”

God’s Eye by A.J. Scudiere
Griffyn Ink Publishing | October 2011
Nominated by the Golden Reviewer, Mary Asher: “What an amazing, intriguing book. It has it all – mystery, love, wild animals, angels and demons. A scary, can’t turn the pages fast enough, wonderful story.”

Hades by Alexandra Adornetto
Feiwel & Friends | August 2011
Nominated by the Golden Reviewer, Mary Asher: “This is one book you will want to read and take to heart. Hell is not a figment of one’s imagination, but a real place where one will be tormented for eternity. Which will you chose – Heaven or Hell?”

Lasting Impression by Tamara Alexander
Bethany House | November 2011
Nominated by Heather Ring: “I did not want to put this book down! As a creative person, I loved the message she was trying to convey. I even found myself reading parts out-loud to my husband. She did a great job getting me involved in the page turning story, while speaking to my heart. This is a must read for any historical fiction fans!”

Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
Atria Books | June 2011
Nominated by Scott Asher: “An almost perfect fiction! It lacks not character, or love, or adventure, or ideas or setting. In all the books I’ve read for the last several years, this one stayed with me the longest. In my opinion, the best book of 2011 bar none!”

Night Road by Kristin Hannah
St. Martin’s Press | March 2011
Nominated by Robin Gwaro: “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.”

Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer
Bethany House | January 2011
Nominated by the Golden Reviewer, Mary Asher: “Paradise Valley is a tale of love, danger and redeeming faith. An amazing story of one family willing to sacrifice everything, who found hope, overcame the threat of bandits, and established a community without restrictions. A story that is based on actual events. A book you will really become involved in from the first page to the last. This is a book you will cherish – a keeper.”

Rust by Royden Lepp
Archaia | December 2011
Nominated by Scott Asher: “You know something is different about Rust when you start reading and find the title page after 30 pages of prologue about the war and during that prologue only 10 words total are spoken. Rust relies so much on art to tell its story that at times I found myself lost in this beautifully illustrated world.”

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
Mira | January 2011
Nominated by Robin Gwaro: “What surprised me most is that while reading, I could empathize more with Allison than be angry at her. That was probably the most confusing emotion of all. I wanted to be completely appalled at her actions. Instead, I found myself heartbroken due to the difficult position in which she found herself. The story will draw you in and keep you guessing until the very end. Gudenkauf writes a tale that few would dare. Her voice is unique and captured me from the very beginning. This book obviously stays on my read again list, and I will be looking for her other novel as well.”

Little Princes by Conor Grennan

Conor Grennan is a young man setting out for a year’s adventure traveling the globe with a three months stop over in Nepal volunteering at the Little Princes Orphanage in Godawari. What started out as a lark, he could state on his resume that he had volunteered in Nepal, turned out to be the one great passion in his life. He came to love the “Little Princes” living in the home and vowed to do everything in his power to help as many Nepalese children as he could.

Little Princes
Conor Grennan
William Morrow
January 2011

After three months in Nepal, he returned to his home in the United States, but couldn’t get the children and their suffering out of his mind. He returned to Nepal and finds the woman who became his wife – the true love of his life, a few close friends, and a cause that has him risking his life trekking across the mountains and in enemy territory.

Conor is in Nepal at the time of the Maoist uprising and the attempt to overthrow the king. The Maoist rebels are a bunch of terrorist fighters that has held the Nepalese people in bondage for many years. One does not go against them and expect to live. Conor has to deal with men who deal in trafficking children and either abandoning them or selling them into servitude. He also has to contend with Maoists forcing the children to fight in their army.

After finding seven children abandoned by their trafficker, Conor vowed to find a home for them and to reunite them with their parents. This was the beginning of the idea to establish the Next Generation Nepal (NGN) Foundation- an orphanage where these children and many other would have a home. The home is in full operation and run by a US-based executive. Conor serves as a board member for NGN and is involved with the daily activities of the organization.

Conor has proven that one person can make a difference. His passion for the children of Nepal is to be commended. The book is a true story of Conor Grennan’s life and his work in Nepal.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.

Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You’ve Been Told by Bradley R.E. Wright, PhD

Sociologist Brad Wright shatters popular myths by sifting through the best available data. He reveals how Christians are doing when it comes to everything from marriage and morality to church growth and public perception. The book gives you the truth behind the statistics and how the numbers are being manipulated.

Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites
…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told

by Bradley R.E. Wright, PhD
Bethany House
July 2010

Here are some facts that might surprise you:

    Evangelicals are more respected by society today than they were twenty yeas ago.
    Divorce rates of Christian couples are lower than those of nonbelievers.
    The percentage of people who attend church has held steady over the past twenty years.

The book is about myths and misconceptions regarding Christianity – especially Evangelical Christians. Mark Regnerus writes – It is a welcome, calming voice to the cacophony of data interpreters of American evangelicalism. Scott McKnight states it is an extremely needed book that is a delight to read,

If you are into charts, graphs and historical data – this is a book for you; Dr. Wright does an excellent job of getting his point across and diffusing christian myths and misconception.

The book has a lot of information, but I wasn’t too impressed. I, myself, am not into charts and graphs. and do not pay much attention to myths regarding Christianity.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. 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.”.

Help Support a Child Affected by HIV/AIDS

  • Some 854 million people worldwide lack enough to eat; 820 million of them are in developing countries1.
  • Hunger and poverty claim 25,000 lives every day — most of those are children1.
  • Every five seconds, a child dies because of hunger1.
  • An estimated 11.4 million children have been orphaned due to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa2.

Those are just a few of the terrible reasons why at BookGateway.com 100% of our profits go to charity. I have children and I suspect that many of the visitors here also have children. They most likely go to bed full every night – a happinstance due in large part because of where we were born. But if I were a father in many places in the world, these statistics could very well wear the names of my children.

Every five seconds my daughter dies.

When I think about these problems and try to put myself into the situations I find that I just don’t have the ability to comprehend the poverty that exists just an airplane trip away. That’s why we at BookGateway.com have decided to raise support for a child affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa through World Vision.

Won’t you consider joining with us? Visit BookGateway.com/About for infomation on how. But if you’d like to get right to it, visit World Vision today and sponsor a child yourself.

Together we can make a difference!

Scott Asher
Founder & Father

1 FAO State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2005
2 UNAIDS AIDS Epidemic Update, 2007

Humanitarian Jesus by Christian Buckley & Ryan Dobson

This is an amazing thought provoking book. I liked it, but I didn’t at the beginning. I thought this is another one of those books where the authors tell you all the good things they and their organization is doing for the poor and the environment. As I turned the pages I begin to understand how all the organizations are working throughout the world helping to alleviate some of the poverty. I did not always agree with their views or those of the interviews, CEOs and President, of various humanitarian organizations. You probably won’t either, but they will get you thinking about the world’s problems.

Jesus was and is the most humanitarian person ever. He fed the multitude, healed the sick/lepers, raised the dead and gave sight to the blind. He also walked away from a number of people without doing anything for them. Jesus did not come to feed the poor or take care of the environment. He came to save our souls (forgiveness of our sins) so we may have external life with our Savior. His main purpose was to proclaim God’s salvation and His Kingdom. Jesus said there will always be poor among us.

As one interviewer pointed out – when we look at human suffering, we react, we don’t respond, Most of the time this doesn’t help. Another stated – don’t look at the issue – look at the people. People are living in trash dumps, being sold into slavery, prostitution, dying daily by the thousands for lack of clean water, AIDS, etc.

The question is: do you feed the hungry and then talk about Jesus and forgiveness or do you talk about forgiveness and then fill their stomach. Maybe you feed them, plant a well for clean water and let someone else worry about their salvation.

Some churches are beginning to take creation seriously – they are concerned about the environment, we must look at the people – not the issue. We must take everything to God and let the Holy Spirit guide us. We must step outside the four walls of the church. Jesus commands us to go out into the world and be disciples.

Highly recommended. The book will certainly get you to thinking – is there anything I can do – can I do more or am I going to ignore the problems and let someone else do the work?


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.

Beirut 39 edited by Samuel Shimon

The book is a collection of short stories, novels and poems written by 39 Arab writers under the age of 40. 450 young writers across the Arab World, Europe and America submitted their writings, but only 39 were selected to be published. The presentations have been translated from Arabic to English by various translators. The books takes the reader into the regions of the Middle East and Africa. The reader feels, hears, tastes the culture of the Arab World. One will live the horrors of war, destruction of their home land, corrupt regimes and experience the pain and frustration of a nation constantly at odds with the rest of the civilized world. These 39 young writers have put their very souls into their writing, hoping to be recognized and published. One cannot but relate to the discipline of the Islamic religion – the call to prayer morning/noon/night, and the pride of the many who constantly practice their belief – the piety of true believers.

The is book is one that will cause the reader to pause and thank their Heavenly Father that we live in a land where we have freedom of worship, speech, etc, without fear of retaliation or imprisonment. These young writers brings one face to face with a civilization far removed from our own – one of suffering, lack of freedom and fear of the unknown.

I recommend the book. It will enlighted you and open your eyes.


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 Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

Richard Stearns is President of World Vision U.S. He came from a poor beginning. With proper education and hard work he quickly climbed the corporate ladder to become CEO of several companies – the last being Lenox – the china company.

With a single phone call Stearns’ life changed drastically. God had a purpose for his life and it wasn’t selling china. After much prayer in which he asked God if He was sure, he accepts the position of President of World Vision.

Stearns explains why there is a hole in our christian belief. We are responsible for our choices. Stearns is an hero. The book challenges all Christians to move out of the cloister and into the world for God’s sake. God has the power to transform the world through us. He expects more from us. Stearns points out that thousands of children die daily from lack of fresh water. AIDS is rampant in Africa – parents dying and leaving children as orphans to care for themselves. What are we as Christians doing about world hunger, human trafficking, etc. He points out that churches need to get involved – individuals need to get involved. Sponsor a child – pay for a well, etc. Tears will stream down your face as you read about the suffering in the world that we Christians ignore.

Read the book to discover the full power of Jesus Christ and change your life. The whole gospel is a world changing revolution that begins with you and me. What are you going to do about world hunger, AIDS, etc? When you finish the book, ask your self the question – How can I help – what am I doing to do? Will you plug the hole in our gospel? What does God want you to do?

Highly recommend this book. It will change your life in ways you can’t imagine Stearns keeps you turning the pages. A hard book to put down.

To learn more visit www.theholeinourgospel.com.


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.

Mornings In Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

This is the story of a young Palestinian girl named Amal borne in the refugee camp of Jenin. Her family had been evicted from their home during the 6-Day war between Palestine and the soon to be State of Israel. One must read the book to follow her journey from Jenin to a Jerusalem orphanage to Beirut, Lebanon to America and her decision to return to Jenin.

Mornings In Jenin
by Susan Abulhawa
Bloomsbury USA
Feburary 2010

Young Yasser Arafat had just formed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the world would soon label him a terrorist. Tears will be streaming down your face as you experience her fear in being constantly under Israel’s guns/planes/tanks, the watchful eye of the Israeli solders, and the war crimes of Ariel Sharon. You will hear the voices behind the headlines of the massacres in Lebanon. Who are the terrorists – Israel or Palestine – the PLO or Israel’s Prime Minister. Will she survive her return to Jenin?

The author was born to refugees of the 6-Day War and has first hand knowledge of what it is like to be a Palestinian under Israel’s thumb. The story will keep you turning pages to learn how she survives the death of her family, her marriage, the birth of her child and the hardships she endures in America trying to fulfill her father’s dream of getting an education. You will experience the family’s struggles to survive through over 60 years of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

A must read book for all ages. When you have finished I believe you will come away with a different view of the Israeli government that is supposedly an ally of the United States.


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.

Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada

Once an Arafat Man is the amazing story of a Palestinian sniper, well located within the PLO – he was even a chauffeur for Yasser Arafat – turned chef in the US, who then converted to Christianity and returned to his homeland to help those he once hated.

Likes: illuminating insight into the perspective of the Palestinian’s plight from refugees from their homes to unwelcome residents of neighboring Arab states. This story takes you deeper than the typical world news headlines to understand the the hatred and perspectives of the people of the Holy Land and offers hope into what the power of love and faith can achieve.

Dislikes: conversational tone/style of the book is abrupt and sometimes lacks smooth transitions between topics and events. Recommended for anyone interested in the middle east conflict on a personal level or the issues surrounding converting from Islam to Christianity.


Joel Freyenhagan is the husband of a wonderful wife and is the father of three children. His wife blogs at BooyaBooks.

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

Buried Alive by Roy Hallums

Roy Hallums is a retired U.S. Navy Commander working as a civilian in Iraq. His company, Saudi Arabia Trading, provides food for the American Army in Baghdad. With the collapse of Saddam Husein’s regime, kidnapping becomes the growth industry in Iraq for anyone with a car and friends with AK-47s. Anyone is a target: foreign correspondents, wealthy Iraqis, foreign diplomats. In 2004 Roy Hallums is kidnapped by such terrorists and this book is his story told with his own words.

His family was not notified of his kidnapping for several months and only learn of the incident by seeing the video that aired on the Internet and Al Jazeera television. The family goes into denial – he is suppose to be in Saudia Arabia; not Baghdad. Since the US government does not negotiate with or pay ransom to terrorists, the government agencies, expecially the FBI, were not very helpful to the family, always citing national security.

One must read the book to learn how Hallums survives the beatings, starvation, filth, moves from safe house to safe house, the threat of being killed, promises of being released, all the while forced to make videos surrounded by hooded men with AK-47s, and always having his face covered so he couldn’t see his kidnappers. For months Hallums is in total darkness, literally buried alive in a hole in the ground, covered over by concrete. And as Hallums see other captives come and go, some he is sure has been ransomed, others he is not sure if they were executed or freed, he is sure he will die any day, he thinks no one is really looking for him and he is doomed. He survives as he forces his mind to take mental trips, praying and asking God for his rescue.

The book clearly depicts the cruelty of one human being to another. The book keeps you turning pages to learn how he survives day to day, and how he survives the drama of when or if he will he be rescued, ransomed by his company, or be executed.

Recommended book for all readers, especially those interested in the Iraq war. As you read Hallums’ ordeal, you will become sad, find tears steaming down your face, and most of all, you’ll find yourself praying for his rescue.


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.