Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge

All too often in our society we conform to the lie that marriage will inevitably fail as, after all, all good things come to an end. But that isn’t how it’s supposed to be. It is supposed to last a lifetime. The vows are supposed to mean what the words do, not what we pour into the words. In John and Stasi Eldredge’s book I found a message that transcends the societal pressures, and lives up to its message that the best things in life, like marriage, are hard work but not only worth it but exciting and rewarding.

Drawing generously on their previous works, the Eldredge’s offer an honest look at marriage from the perspective that they share that we humans are made male and female on purpose with unique needs and desires. This isn’t Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – we aren’t talking about language barriers and differences that separate. We are talking about the way that the sexes compliment each other when understood correctly. What I liked most about this book was the honest and open peek inside this marriage that most likely assumed was always and would always be perfect. After all, they literally wrote the book(s) on the sexes! But what I found was a marriage that in many ways mirrored mine. The early struggles, the tough choices, coming to the edge of choosing to quit. The Eldredges opened themselves up to the reader and I can’t see a relationship that wouldn’t benefit from reading it.

For Valentines day, this year or any, you could give flowers or material goods or you could give a book like this one that says to your spouse that you are in it for life. Highly recommended.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site 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.

This is Your Brain in Love by Dr. Earl Henslin and Dr. Daniel Amen

In This is Your Brain in Love, Dr. Earl Henslin examines the impact brain disorders can have on our relationships.  The book comes with five tests included that are intended to help you determine both your own and your partner’s loive style. From there, Dr. Henslin describes those love styles and details first how to control the issues associated with that particular style if it is your own, and then how to communicate with your partner if he/she is of that particular style.

First: the high points: I do like that Dr. Henslin attributes some of the issues we have as couples to issues that we might be facing in brain chemistry. I think too often people attribute poor choices with a lack of personal responsibility. There are instances where obsessive and depressive behaviors are simply not something a person can “get over.” I also like that Dr. Henslin both details the problems people may be facing in brain chemistry and ways those can be overcome. He details behavior modification, diet, supplements, and finally medication as options for treatment. I am very excited that he doesn’t skip straight to medication as a fix all method.  Dr. Henslin also relates the stories of his patients in each of the five categories, which helps to put a real world feel to the information he is relating.

On the down side, Dr. Henslin relies too heavily on brain chemistry and less on the fact that people can still make different choices.  While I will concede that there are some instances where brain misfires can override good decision making, I would like to believe that these are the exception and not the rule. Otherwise, it would mean that I have absolutely no control over my own actions and decisions.

I also had a difficult time relating to this book, as I didn’t fit into any of the five love styles Dr Henslin details in the book. Rather, I exhibit some of the behaviors in all five of them. It was also difficult to apply any of the love styles to my husband, as he also had some of the attributes in each of them.  Without any definitive path, it would be hard to put any of the principles into action.

In addition, much of Dr. Henslin’s book reads like an endorsement for Dr. Daniel Amen (who is a brain researcher). The brain scans on which the test and theories are based are from Dr. Amen’s research. In addition, many of the supplements recommended by Dr. Henslin are from Dr. Amen’s practice.

In the end, I have to put this one in the land of the middle as far as my recommendation. If you are able to relate either your spouse or yourself to any of the five love styles, then many of his principles could be put to good use. Since I was unable to do that, I simply find it to be an interesting read.

A note of warning: if you are looking for ways to improve your relationship based on Godly principles found in his Word, you will not find them here. There are biblical references as far as God’s plan for marriage and the marriage bed in the book, but the actions needed to improve a relationship (from Dr. Henslin’s view) are based on scientific research and not the theological variety.

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.

Once An Arafat Man by Tass Saada

Each time that I hear about deaths due to conflicts in the Middle East, my heart breaks. I will be the first to tell you that I know very little of the history of the conflict there.  That being said, my feelings do not change about the pain I feel in the wake of the loss of human life.  Any loss of life appeals to my humanity and always triggers the need to pray for the families that will now be morning the loss of those they love.
At one point in his life, Tass Saada had a hand in causing many of those deaths.  Throughout his youth, Saada was sent from place to place with his family, a refugee family tossed about as the turmoil in the area and the conflict grew stronger.  Saada became more and more angry as he developed the belief that he and his people had been robbed of the land that was rightfully theirs.  As a teenager, he enlisted in an organization under the leadership of Yassar Arafat, bent on doing what they felt the government could not.  Saada allowed his anger and resentment to fuel the violence and took the lives of countless people in the name of recovering what he felt he and his people were due.  If the story stopped there, it would be fitting to admonish Saada for glorifying a life that led to the deaths of so many.  But, as is always true of a conversion story, that is not the end.
Many years after Saada managed to leave that life behind and emigrate to the United States, his life was changed by a man who epitomized everything Saada had learned to despise in his youth: a Jew.  Saada’s rebirth in the holy spirit happened in a flash, and he began to examine what the Bible had to say about the promised land and in whose hands the land should actually be.  He learned through God’s word that the land was to be shared and made it his life’s work to bring the people of the Middle East to a point of reconciliation.
Saada’s story is one that truly displays the awesome power that Christ can have to change a life if He is simply allowed into a heart to make the change. This book is broken into three parts: the first details Saada’s life before Christ, the second details his life after accepting Christ, and the third details his beliefs about what can bring true peace to the Middle East.  Through God’s word, he feels that true peace can only be brought through reconciliation and details how he thinks that can be accomplished.
The point that strikes me as the most harrowing in this book is not the image that Saada paints through the eye of a sniper’s rifle, not the one where he details God speaking to him, but of a man whose life has been changed so wholly that he can stand in a room of Israeli widows and ask forgiveness for the part he played in the destruction of their families.  Saada recounts his story without glorifying his actions, giving all of the credit for the change in his life to the almighty.  He speaks about hope for humanity in the face of great odds, counting on God to bring the peace that is so desperately needed into a tumultuous region.  It is that hope that can be taught to each member of the world, ensuring that we love like Christ loved, without malice, prejudice, or conditions.

This book was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit for more information on this book.

Tea With Hezbollah by Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker along with Carl Medearis, his guide, and Samir, their man with the contacts, travel from Egypt to Syria and many points in between in an effort to sit with many of the ideologues of the Muslim world. The authors state that the goal is to find out what the important Muslims at each of the stops, be them Hamas or Hezbollah or unaffiliated (officially) think about Jesus’ teaching on loving our neighbors as ourselves. Dekker calls the book a travelogue and it is a fitting description as the book documents their travels in the Middle East, more than actually deals with the issue at hand, which is to say that the question of how important Muslim thinkers and influencers think Jesus’ teaching fits with their agenda and actions. Each of the conversations that Dekker has with each of the Muslim leaders is shared verbatim in transcript form so that there can be no issue of out of context quotes or agenda driven choices of quotes.

There are parts of this book that are absolutely fascinating. The history and perspectives were, in many cases, completely new to me even though I consider myself well read on current issues. On occasion, Dekker would go into depth on the history of a specific area and how the temples to such and such god were taken over by the Jews, then the Christians, then the Muslims. I also found the transcripts to be fascinating in that I gained insight into the background and character of those being interviewed. Unfortunately, I found that the book didn’t actually answer the question posed in the introduction.

I found most of Dekker’s worrying about going into the dangerous areas to be whiny. I get that he was scared, but he went for a book so I found that I didn’t connect emotionally with his plight. If he had gone for a more altruistic reason I may have cared more. I also found the story of Nicole to be distracting. Sure it was an interesting aside, but I read this book to hear from the leaders of the Muslim world about the idea that we are called to love our enemies and I just didn’t get that. In fact, the biggest let down in the book were the interviews. Dekker had an opportunity to discuss non-violence and love with very influential Muslims and he spent most of the interview asking inane questions like, “What is a joke that makes you laugh?” and “What kind of car do you drive?” The important questions came only at the end and little or no follow-up was made to them. I understand that Dekker is trying to humanize our so-called enemies so that we can do a better job in loving them, but I felt at times that humanizing them with the shallow questions did less to answer our concerns than to fill the pages of a book. An interesting read that ultimately fails to deliver on its promise.

Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site 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.

The Male Factor by Shaunti Feldhahn

Like Shaunti Feldhahn’s previous works, the Male Factor is commentary based on surveys. I was introduced to Feldhahn’s work through For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women, which I found to be very helpful in understanding my wife and her needs. And though I am a man interested in women, I also read For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men to see how accurate I found the survey information to be. I found that Feldhahn was spot on and the surveys incredibly insightful. Now with this book, we get the same insightful information but based on surveys focused on the work environment instead of the home.

As a man in the business world I found that the survey was right inline with how I see the workplace and / or how I know that my male peers do. I imagine that if a woman was to read this book and implement some of the suggestions that they would immediately find their male peers much easier to work with and her job much more enjoyable. (In the same way, I look forward to the upcoming partner book, which will focus on how males can function better at work with females.) Interestingly, this book also sheds light on some of the weaknesses in the way that men function, and while reading I found that I could benefit from changing my worldview as well.

Another solid book that I recommend to all business people, male or female.

Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site 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.

Rediscovering God in America by Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, takes us on a walking tour of the nation’s capitol – Washington, DC. The touch begins with The National Archives, Washington Monument, the Memorials of Jefferson, Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Capitol Building, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Ronald Reagan Building, The White House, World War II Memorial, and last but now least, Arlington Cemetery and the grave of President Kennedy with the eternal flame. Gingrich give a small dissertation of the history of each and the trials and tribulations encountered in the building of these historical buildings.

This book, in part, is a history lesson of America. Gingrich clearly describes our founding father’s faith in God. From our first president, George Washington through George Bush II, God has played a mayor role in decisions made by these men, Washington at Valley Forge, Roosevelt’s “fire side chats”, Eisenhower’s prayer on the beaches of Normandy on D-day, Kennedy’s famous speech -“ask not what you country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.

Our country is founded on the principle that “all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights…” The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights all stress the importance of the invisible hand of Almighty God. The novel is not written as political, but spiritual. Gingrich points out that our founding fathers knew that power came from God and that a nation cannot survive without God. Faith of our presidents and their devotion to God is clearly depicted in their speech3es, scriptures carved in and on all the monuments and buildings that make up our nation’s capital. He also points out that our founding founders established our nation to be a nation “under God”.

The secular Left’s relentless effort to drive God out of America is succeeding at an alarming rate. The Supreme Court ruled we can no longer say “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The writer points out that we are allowing five people to completely change the structure of America.

The book is not intended to be political, acknowledge any particular religion, but is spiritual in context. Ir clearly warns us that we must stand up for God and our believes or lose our rights as a nation under God.

Callista Gingrich’s photography throughout the novel is outstanding.

I am reminded of Jefferson’s immortal words in the Declaration of Independence that all ” are men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” and the inescapable truth that freedom is strictly from God’s grace. Don’t let it slip away.

Good read – will renew your faith in God. Gingrich did an excellent job.

Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for 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.

99 Ways to Build Job Security by Gary Nowinski

Looking at the book, no doubt you wouldn’t think much of it. Plain cover, undersized and clearly for the budget conscious, this book does not look significant. But on the inside there are a multitude of significant nuggets of wisdom! Like most “value gifts” the “99 Ways…” series is far more about what’s on the inside than the outside.

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher, WaterBrook Press, as a part of a blog tour for value gifts, along with Fool-Proofing Your Life, which I will review in the coming days. I admit that I was hoping to receive 99 Ways to Stretch Your Home Budget or 99 Ways to Entertain Your Family for Free. But when I started reading the bite sized wisdom I realized that this book was exactly what I needed.

In an economy like this, with job security on so many people’s minds I found an easy outlet for the 99 Ways… – at my job! I started quoting Ways to my direct reports that I believed would benefit them, like #6 Self-Confidence and #89 Self-Defeating Thoughts. They were a hit!

Value gift books can sometimes be overlooked because of their presentation but at least in the case of the 99 Ways… series I believe that you should give them a second look.

Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site 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.

Israel Under Fire by John Ankerberg and Jimmy DeYoung

John Ankerberg and Jimmy DeYoung come together to create “Israel Under Fire: The Prophetic Chain of Events That Threatens the Middle East,” a book that promises to explain the Biblical predictions concerning the current events in Israel, how what happens in Israel affects the rest of the world, and answers the age old question, “Will there ever be peace in the Middle East.” To come to these answers Ankerberg and DeYoung interview – on location in Israel and the Middle East – many of the policy makers and experts who would be close to the situation, such as, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel and Reuven Rivlin, the Speaker of the Knesset in Israel.

Ankerberg and DeYoung are less authors than interviewers for much of the book (and interviewees, as I will explain.) The authors claim that the book will answer questions and give a Biblical basis for the current events in Israel. To accomplish these goals the authors provide a brief history how the modern state of Israel came to be and what exactly is currently happening in Israel. On these points, I found that the authors were successful. Unfortunately, this was only one part of the book.

In the second part of the book, the authors interview current world leaders and here is where I feel the book goes awry. I had two issues here. First, the authors advertise on the back cover that they interview Adnan Husseini, Yasser Arafat’s cousin and Palestinian Authority spokesman. While, it is true, it is a little misleading as he is one of three world leaders advertised yet he appears in only one very short section with only a couple of questions, while the others leaders, Jewish pundits exclusively, are interviewed extensively. This is far from balanced coverage.

Second, the authors didn’t just interview pundits they agreed with – they also interviewed each other. I understand that the authors may be experts in a field but their opinions should be bolstered by other expert’s opinions, statistics, reports and the like. Author’s opinions should not be proved by their own opinions. The issue of lack of documentation and proof isn’t just relegated to their opinions in interviews. Unfortunately, the authors take comments and opinions from pundits they agree with for granted, moving right past controversial quotes that cry out for data that reinforces the opinion. The only reference in the book to an outside source (other than the Bible) is on page 156 (of 174).

In the third section of the book, the authors attempt to tie current events with Biblical prophecy. I would expect that anyone, after reading this book, even someone who has no experience with Biblical prophecy or current events, would be able to walk away understanding the “prophetic chain of events that threaten the Middle East.” What I found in this section, though, was confusion. To explain a complicated book like Revelation, I would expect we would start at the beginning and work our way through the (purported) time line from start to finish. I would expect that current events would be tied in to the timeline to show how the events fit into the puzzle. I would expect that the authors would show how these events work together to fulfill prophecy. Unfortunately, Ankerberg and DeYoung did not make a convincing connection for me.

While I did find the first section of the book interesting, this book left me unsatisfied in my search for connections between current events and Biblical prophecy. Revelation itself is already difficult to understand and I found the authors didn’t accomplish their goal of making it accessible and understood by the reader.

As much as I would have liked to, I cannot recommend this book to anyone but Bible prophecy buffs.

Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site 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.

Jesus Freaks (Voice of the Martyrs)

I love testimonies. I love listening to people I know – people I trust wont lie or mislead me – telling me about how God has worked in their lives and how God has come through for them. Testimonies build faith and hope. I was really looking forward to reading this book for that reason. I wanted to hear the testimonies of Christians in horrific situations refusing to recant or exchange their savior for the empty promises of the world.

Reading about situations that I can’t even imagine and how characters in the book respond was inspirational! The problem is that since this book suggests that the stories are real I was expecting authentication.

When I watch religious TV (rarely) I see people who claim miracles. I hear preachers saying that their ministry healed a bazillion people this year alone! I see people jumping around on stage and the “healer” saying that they couldn’t walk previously. My first thought is always, “show me the proof.” If these “healers” heal so many people wouldn’t there be some kind of evidence? Wouldn’t there be documentation of the before and after of each of these “healed” people showing miraculous change?

I’m not saying that I can’t believe in miracles. What I am saying is that I want to be discerning in who I trust and what I believe.

This book, unfortunately, ended up like the TV healers to me. So many of these stories were far fetched, had only first names or even no names, were about people and situations decades ago and seemed to have no way of knowing what was written was true. I remember stories that were written about a person who was in jail who had no way to communicate to those outside yet somehow the authors of this book were able to know the inner thoughts of the soon-to-be-martyred Christian. The authors also knew what the jailers said and did. How? Where is the evidence that this isn’t just an inspiring work of fiction?

Situations like the above example aren’t the exception in this book. Unfortunately, instead of testimonies from people we can trust with information we can verify what we get from this book is simply nothing more than stories.

If I am going to spend my time reading Christian fiction, I could go with Ted Dekker or Janette Oke or Francine Rivers (depending on genre preferences) and get a better story that also includes Christians in situations that give opportunity to prove out their faith.

Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site 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.