Category Archives: Non-Fiction

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.

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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.

Fools Rush in by Bill Carter

This book is Bill Carter’s memoirs. He is a world traveler and one of his trips lands him in Alaska working in a salmon factory. Corrina, a very beautiful young girl also works there. Bill is immediately attracted, but is reluctant to approach her. On the last day of employment, he finally get up the nerve to speak with her. She also is a wanderer and after much discussion they agree to travel together. However, fate has a way of changing our plans and Corrina is killed in an automobile accident. Bill is devastated, but there is no turning back with his plans.

After several side trips. Bill finds himself in Bosnia right in the middle of the ethnic cleansing war. Sarajevo is a city caught in the middle. Bill meets Graeme Bint, an Englishman, and his motley crew (who calls themselves The Serious Road Trip) running humanitarian aid into Bosnia. Bill joins the group and his life is changed forever. Bill is convinced that Corrine’s spirit is constantly with him and the driving force behind his actions. Bill convinces the rock group U2 to help bring the story of the siege of Sarajevo to the world via satellite during their European tour.

One must read the book to fully understand this war of ethnic cleansing. A war that the UN and America let draw on for so long without interfering. However, I cannot recommend the book. The language is repulsive. The author could have written a more compelling novel if he had concentrated more on the hardships of war and less explicit details of his drunken brawls, drug use and sex.

Bill Carter has received many accolades and international praise for this book, but I found it offensive.


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.

Hannah’s Hope by Jennifer Saake

The book is written from the personal journal of the author as she experiences the heartbreak of infertility. Hannah’s Hope is patterned after Hannah in the Bible. Hannah’s story can be found in 1 Samuel, Chapters 1 and 2 of the Old Testament. (I suggest you read her story along with Jennifer’s).

Hannah too longed for a child to hold and nurture. She dearly loved her husband Elkanah, but was unable to give him a son. The Bible states she was barren. Jennifer loved her husband Rick. They had plans for a large family, but this didn’t seems to be in God’s plans.

The story unfolds as the author takes you through the heartache and agony of losing her babies through miscarriages, still born, failed adoptions and in vitro fertilization (IVF). You will feel her pain as she experiences one failed adoption after another, year after year of not getting pregnant, and the agony of losing her babies when she does become pregnant. As you read her story, tears will flow, you will find yourself praying for her, becoming angry as you ask the question – how can this happen to one who so desperately wants to be a mother? Jennifer never loses her faith in God, however – she is determined to wait on His timing and His plans for her life.

One must read the book to fully grasp the agony one goes through being unable to bear children. Does Jennifer and Rick ever have living children – the ending will surprise you. Through God everything is possible and He is with you no matter what you may have to endure. I found the book both soothing and heart rending as I made the journey with Jennifer and all the other women who are infertile.

Highly recommend for all adult readers. You will come away with a thorough understanding of what it means to be infertile and how it impacts your life.


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 Gospel According to Lost by Chris Seay

Lost is a television phenomenon with strong cult following; combining strong character development with mysterious plot lines, bound together by strong writing. The premise of this book is to connect Lost to the gospel of Christ. The unsaved who follow this series might well be attracted to such a book and Mr Seay, for the most part, does a serviceable job of making this connection.

I say “for the most part” because several of the chapters involve something of a reach causing a few of the “connections” to feel contrived. Nowhere is this more evident than the chapter on Jacob where the biblical references even get a little fuzzy. Still, there is some good stuff here for a seeker.

Another group that might find this book worthwhile would be a gaggle of Lost geeks in search of material for a Bible Study / Lost discussion.

I basically enjoyed this read but couldn’t help the feeling that it is a bit premature. I doubt that the writers of Lost really have the gospel in mind and where they take this last season could completely undo much of this book’s premise.


Ronnie Meek is is a guy who likes to share good reads with other people and warn them about boring or bad stuff. His personal blog is It’s In There Somewhere where he is currently blogging through the New Testament.

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

The Eastern Stars by Mark Kurlansky

This is a very complex book! – Is it a history of the sugar mills and the town of San Pedro de Macoris … or a history of baseball and its players? Yes to both.

San Pedro de Macoris is a small town in the Dominican Republic. For centuries their main industry has been sugar – exporting it to Europe and the United States. The great mills are no longer being operated, just abandon empty rusty buildings. The few left employ very few for four to six months per season. The town is extremely impoverished. Each ruling government party has bought in European and American developer to build large hotels to encourage tourism, but few tourist have come. San Pedro is one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the Dominican Republic and one of the poorest.

The main mill is controlled by the existing ruling government party and at the start of the sugar season, a big banner goes up over the mill which reads “Gracias Presidente por ina nueva zafra” – Thank you President for a new cane harvest, as if he has anything to do with the good or bad harvest.

The second industry in San Pedro de Macoris is baseball. “Baseball is not just a way of life – it’s the way of life.,” says the author. Make shift stadiums are everywhere – boys of all ages play baseball in dirt filled lots with sock balls and cane stick bats. Their dream is to make it in the United States big leagues – becoming rich and famous, returning to San Pedro to build big mansions and drive SUVs. The town is overrun with scouts from all leagues – sorting through all the promising candidates. Boys as young as 14 years are signed with a major US teams to be groomed to their full potential. Some never make it to even the A league, being released and sent home. But a select few have made it to the big leagues, keeping the dream alive for all the other boys.

Seventy-nine boys from San Pedro have made it to the Majors – Jose Cano, Alfonso Soriano, and Sammy Sosa to name a few. Sammy is the only batter to hit 60 or more home runs for three consecutive years. He is one of only five players to hit 600 home runs.

The book is a story of many who sought freedom from poverty through baseball. However,the total failures are almost the same as successes. When one asked the question – Why does the town of San Pedro produce so many baseball players? The answer – Because we don’t have anything else to do and we aren’t tall enough for basketball.

Good book for baseball fans and historians. They will thank this small impoverished town for turning out such great players in a sport that has become America’s pastime. The Dominican Republic may be a challenged nation, but it sure turns out some great baseball players who have the dream of making it in the Big Leagues.


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 a Major in the United States Air Force. He is a friend of BookGateway.com and is associated with 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.

Keeping The Feast by Paula Butturini

Paula Butturini and John Tagliabue, both foreign correspondents, met in Italy, fell in love, and married several years later. Shortly after their wedding they were given assignments in Communist Warsaw Poland. The time is at the beginning of the Polish revolution. John is critically wounded by a sniper’s bullet and their happy carefree life they had known in Rome no longer existed plunging them into a horrible nightmare of events.

Paula, in her own words, tells of her struggles to overcome John’s many surgeries, his bouts of clinical depression, his treatments by numerous psychiatrists,and the birth of their daughter. She is not only trying to survive John’s illness, but also the death of her mother by her own hands. Love, food and Italy is the sustaining factor throughout the entire book. One must read the book to see how the simple daily selection of food, preparing the meals, her memories of family dinners and the ritual of eating three meals together each day at the kitchen table played such an important role in the healing of two people and stabilized their very existence. The love of Italy’s countryside, good friends and good food healed a hurting family.

An enjoyable read, but lacked substance. One learns a lot about ‘old world’ Italian cooking and the role food plays in the lives of Italian families. The story clearly points how the simple ritual of selecting, preparing and eating food can become an important step in the healing process.


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.

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.

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Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. 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 mediacenter.tyndale.com for more information on this book.