Category Archives: Reviewers

Glory Song by Redman & The Answer by Camp

Sometimes I have an opportunity to listen to and review new music and because many of my friends and family love Christian pop radio music I agreed to review two new CDs. Both came with the promise of a free giveaway and because I love you, the readers of this site, here are my reviews. Comment below or on Facebook to win. Winners will be chosen at random on October 15, 2017.

Glory Song
by Matt Redman
sixsteprecords
September 2017

My biggest problem with this album and the songs on it are previous works by Redman. There are no 10,000 Reasons here. Instead, we get, in my opinion, very basic lyrics – listen to, for instance, the beginning of the song All Glory, All Glory the song. And, yes, that is an illustration, an illustration that is, – on mellow and same-ish music ready made for Christian radio. And that’s not a great thing, in my opinion. None of the songs rise to the level of interesting, creative or complicated.

That said, listeners who came looking for Redman will find enough of the same Redman to love this album. Listeners looking for “safe for the whole family” music will find it here. Listeners looking for something mellow and encouraging with easy to remember lyrics will enjoy Glory Song. And since music is mostly all about taste preferences, I’ll just agree to disagree and set this aside.

The Answer
by Jeremy Camp
Sparrow
October 2017

When I was first introduced to Jeremy Camp it was as an alternative to secular music. He was supposed to be good-for-the-soul pop rock and some of those early songs weren’t bad. Recently – say the last decade – he has become known for his worship songs and covers, Like 2015’s Same Power, and soft rock songs like, He Knows (both from I Will Follow.)

The Answer is very similar to, but not as good as I Will Follow. He has the same soft rock vibe going for the most part, but adds some electronic noise, like in the already constantly playing on radio, Word of Life, or even a Jon Bon Jovi-esq Awake O Sleeper (reminds me a lot of Young Guns.)

While some of the songs do stretch the sound of Camp, I found the album to be strongly, firmly forgettable. Obviously, I’m in the minority here based on the radio play that Word of Life is already getting. But I’m tired of songs that all sound the same and artists who don’t push themselves or evolve. I firmly believe that Camp can do better. Just my opinion.

Don’t forget to comment here or on Facebook if you think my opinion is totally rubbish and you want a copy of the CD(s).


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.

A copy of each of the CDs was provided in exchange for a review.

Live Blog: Day 2, 2017 #WizardWorld Comic Con


Welcome to BookGateway.com’s Wizard World Comic Con Nashville 2017 live blog! Join me (Scott Asher @ashertopia) David Mason (resident comics-know-it-all), and David Warren (photo and videographer) as we blog everything that happens on during Day 2 of Comic Con Nashville 2017! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BookGateway and #WizardWorld! Video will also be posted next day on our YouTube channel. On tap today: Whedonverse cosplay, Saturday morning cartoons, Batman the Animated Series, Star Wars cosplay, Harry Potter, Firefly cast reunion, and more!

(CLICK ON TITLE TO VIEW LIVE BLOG)

Live Blog: Day 1, 2017 #WizardWorld Comic Con


Welcome to BookGateway.com’s Wizard World Comic Con Nashville 2017 live blog! Join me (Scott Asher @ashertopia), and David Mason (resident comics-know-it-all) as we blog everything that happens on during Day 1 of Comic Con Nashville 2017! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BookGateway and #WizardWorld! Video will also be posted next day on our YouTube channel. On tap today: Opening thoughts, CinemaSins, DC Cosplay, voice actors, writing fantasy, and more!

(CLICK ON TITLE TO VIEW LIVE BLOG)

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.

Megaskull by Platts

Nobrow is so hit or miss. I get that they want to allow people to be creative with no editing or censoring, but the fact is that most artists and writers need editors who can help them develop their ideas, to cut out bad ideas and cultivate good ones. But at Nobrow, the artists get to do whatever they want and most of the time it’s pretty mediocre. This time it was terrible.

Megaskull
by Kyle Platts
Nobrow
December 2012

Kyle Platts is the writer and artist in this book that is a series of supposed-to-be jokes. The art style is very late night cartoon network-ish: bright, exaggerated and violent. The stories or “jokes” are pretty terrible. None of them are funny. Not a single one. Most don’t even make sense. They are often based on absurdity, but don’t hold up well actually fleshing them out.

Consider two dads standing in their driveway watching a kid ride their bike for the first time. One says, “Good job son! You’re making me proud.” The other says, “What if he just kept biking for like ever, like Forrest Gump?” The first just looks at the second like the dork he is. No one thinks, I should make a two page comic about this one second, lame joke. But Platts did. And this whole book is like that.


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.

NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible

This isn’t just a study Bible for kids!

NIV Kid’s Visual Study Bible
Zondervan
June 2017

The only thing that sets this Bible apart from other study Bibles for adults is that the cover says this is for kids. This has study notes, pictures, maps, explanations and descriptions just like what you would find in your adult or teen study Bible. Everything is easy to understand and at a reading level that older children can comprehend. (My 10 year old was able to read the notes with no issues.)

Normally, I don’t like seeing a ton of new versions of the same study Bibles, but in this case I think this is one that stands apart for how comprehensive it is with the notes and visual aspects. I already had a couple of study Bibles for my two young sons, but this one will preplace those as the go to version.


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 and Handlebar as a review copy.

The Captain’s Daughter by Delamere

London, 1879 When a series of circumstances beyond her control leaves Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater putting on the most popular show in the city. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. That is, as long as the shadows from her past don’t catch up with her.

The Captain’s Daughter
by Jennifer Delamere
Baker Publishing Group
June 2017

After a hand injury forces Nate Moran from his army regiment in India, he returns home to London, a place that holds bitter memories. He agrees to fill in temporarily as a stagehand while his brother recuperates from a broken leg, but Nate is counting down the days until he can rejoin his regiment. His future is decided—until he meets a beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate yearns to leave behind.

My thoughts:

I decided to step out of my regular book genre again.  Sometimes I just need something completely different than what I normally read.

This is the first book in “London Beginnings Series.”  

I’m a fan of historical fiction. Jennifer Delamere is a new author for me. The historical setting of the story is 1879 London- and the historical characters of Gilbert and Sullivan that feature with their musicals made the story’s setting delightful.

The story is based off of three girls who become orphans after the death of their parents and end up in George Müller’s orphanage. Then focuses on Rosalyn the eldest eventually finds work as a housemaid. You find yourself skipping 6 years in the future and Rosalyn is accused of stealing and the unwanted advances of her employer’s new husband. She flees to be with her other sister to Bristol.

This was an easy read. I found the character interesting and likable.  Not a lot of depth with the character but, there is a lot of action to keep the book interesting. The book wasn’t predictable and it did leave you wanting more depth with the characters.

I’m not going to give away the story so you will have to read it for yourself. Overall, this was a fun read that I had a hard time putting down.


ReneeK is a sweet tea addicted mamma who loves to cuddle up to a good book. She blogs at Little Homeschool on the Praire and writes about family, homeschooling, having a special needs child, and about whatever else tickles her fancy.

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

Threads of Suspensions by Henderson

Dee Henderson Pens Another Compelling Cold Case Mystery.

Threads of Suspensions
An Evie Blackwell Cold Case
by Dee Henderson
Baker Publishing Group
May 2017

Evie Blackwell’s reputation as a top investigator for the Illinois State Police has landed her an appointment to the governor’s new Missing Persons Task Force. This elite investigative team is launched with plenty of public fanfare. The governor has made this initiative a high priority, so they will have to produce results–and quickly.

Evie and her new partner, David Marshal, are assigned to a pair of unrelated cases in suburban Chicago, and while both involve persons now missing for several years, the cases couldn’t be more different. While Evie opens old wounds in a close-knit neighborhood to find a missing college student, David searches for a private investigator working for a high-powered client.

With a deep conviction that “justice for all” truly matters, Evie and David are unrelenting in their search for the truth. But Evie must also find answers to the questions that lie just beneath the surface in her personal life.

My Thoughts:

Somehow I must have missed reading Traces of Guilt another Evie Blackwell Cold Case Book. I have been a long time fan of Dee Henderson’s books and have read all of her books except for the last one. Dee Henderson was one of the first authors I read when I became a believer many – many years ago. I was hooked to find an author that was a believer writing quality Christian mystery books.

I love the details she puts into the Missing Persons Task Force. The process she describes that an investigator has to go through to pull up a case that has been unsolved for many years. It made it interesting seeing how Evie and her new partner David have completely different styles as investigators.

The story kept building up the suspense as the team starts uncovering the mystery of the missing people. It was a page turner for me.

Dee Henderson always has a flair for the characters, plot, and the surrounding of the story. It was interesting going through the many theories and leads that will keep you not wanting to put the book down. There are a few surprises. I love David and Evie each have a deep faith in God.  

I’m not going to give away any spoilers but, I have to say that I didn’t find this story predictable and was surprised how it came together.
  


ReneeK is a sweet tea addicted mamma who loves to cuddle up to a good book. She blogs at Little Homeschool on the Praire and writes about family, homeschooling, having a special needs child, and about whatever else tickles her fancy.

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

Before I Fall Review

Before I Fall, based on the 2010 book by Lauren Oliver, centers on a young lady that relives the same day over and over – the day of her apparent death.

The day starts normally, with her friends picking her up for school on Valentine’s Day (here: Cupid Day). Normal for Sam means preparing to have sex for the first time later that night, hanging out with her shallow Mean Girl friends, making fun of and bullying other students, and going to a party where she and her friends – all underage – will drink until drunk. After bullying a young lady at the party, and after drinking quite a bit and possibly being drunk, Sam and get friends set off for home but hit something in the road, crash and Sam dies. Then she wakes up again and does it all over.

“What do you think people will say about you when you die?” Asks Sam on her first repeat. Even as an awareness of her shallow lifestyle starts to dawn on her, Sam still considers depth from the perspective of selfishness.

By her second repeat, Sam continues the narration from the opening lines. Now she wants to make positive changes and starts asking questions about her life choices. She smartly rejects her planned sexually encounter with her boyfriend recognizing that she “shouldn’t have to have sex with him to get him to say ‘I love you.'”

After she wakes for her third repeat, though, she says, “I did everything right and nothing changed.” Which sets off uncounted days of despair. So instead of being nice, she decides to be even more selfish and lets her anger out on everyone around her as she self destructs.

At one point Sam asks her mom if she thinks Sam is a good person. The mom says, “Of course I do, but what matters is what you think.” Sam replies, “But why do you think I’m a good person?” And that’s the most important question this movie may ask of us. By what criteria can
we say Sam (or anyone) is “good?” The story seems to suggest the answer is by being true to yourself (literally in a big sign on a boy’s wall) and being nice to people around you. But those are not actually good answers, because so many characters who are being true to themselves are simply not good by any criteria. Since the movie struggles to find a good definition of “good,” the ending isn’t as powerful or permanent as it could have been.

[SPOILERS]The resolution and final conclusion of the story is when Sam somehow realizes that she needs to save someone else from suicide by effectively committing suicide by jumping in front of the truck to push the other girl out of the way. There are so many issues with this resolution it’s hard to cover them all. How is her dieing somehow the best resolution? Why couldn’t she have tackled the girl or got in her way? What about telling an adult? (Isn’t that the best answer for a teenager dealing with this?) And even if this was the best way to end things, it’s done in such a selfish way that it’s unclear exactly what Sam learned, only that she got a bunch of positive memories in her final last days. She tells a boy who loves her that she loves him then runs off to her death. She tells her friends how much they mean to her but doesn’t teach them any lessons about how underage drinking, sex, distracted driving, or being mean and bullying all made their lives and the lives around them bad. She never calls her friend Lindsey on how She bullied everyone (in her final day). She leaves them pretty much how she found them. The girl didn’t commute suicide, but was Sam really save by her? I’m not so sure.[END SPOILERS]

Those are not the only reasons to be concerned about this film. Without giving too many details away (see spoilers above of you must), there are some really troubling things that happen in the film that are often portrayed positively. Things that make this story significantly more appropriate for an adult than a teenager – the intended audience. Underage drinking and sex are portrayed in a mostly glorified way and lessons learned through the film don’t really counter the negative messages throughout.

In the end, this is a film that tries to send the right message but ultimately fails for lack of a standard on what “good” actually means. As a Christian this makes sense to me, because apart from God no one can be good, so a film set with a purely atheistic worldview cannot come to a clear conclusion. We are left with a weak answer: Sam must learn to be nice in high school, but she can still participate in any sins she may want to so long as she doesn’t bully people. While I think it is “good” to be nice and not bully people that can’t be the end of the journey. True love for others warns of dangers, it doesn’t just smile and say the words. Lessons need to last, not be covered up by a single day or act, then everything goes back to normal.

2/5 stars. Tons of bad language of every stripe, with an emphasis on B*****. Strong focus on sexuality. No nudity. One repetitive view of an underage girl’s chest in a bra. Sexuality is discussed along with slurs made towards a self described lesbian. Underage drinking and drunkenness. Bullying. Drunken and distracted driving. Suicide. Immorality doesn’t often have consequences. Agonist no violence other than the car crashes, which doubt show anything.


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.

The Ebb Tide by Lewis

Oh, to see the ocean, Sallie thought. And to spend the summer as a nanny. She shook her head in amazement. This seemed too good to be true, but she really must talk it over with Dat and Mamm, especially since she’d be gone so long. And after I promised Mamm I’d take baptism classes this summer . . .

The Ebb Tide
by Beverly Lewis
Baker Publishing Group
April 2017

Sallie Riehl has dreamed of traveling at least once before settling down to join church, so she is thrilled at an unexpected summer opportunity to nanny in Cape May for a well-to-do family. However, saying even a temporary good-bye to Paradise Township means forgoing baptism another year, as well as leaving behind a would-be beau. Yet the weeks in Cape May soon prove unforgettable as Sallie meets a Mennonite young man whose friendship she quickly begins to cherish. Has she been too hasty with her promises, or will she only find what her heart is longing for back home?

My Thoughts:

Beverly Lewis has a wonderful way to make stories come alive within the pages of her books. Every time I finish a book or a series I’m sad to see it come to an end.

Sallie is not the typical Amish girl and wants to explore places before she joins the church.  After her first trip to a faraway place by airplane doesn’t happen she is give an opportunity to see the ocean for the summer. Her intent is to return home and join the church. Life isn’t always laid out in a neat package. Sometimes God has different plans for us and Sallie has to find out which path God is leading her on.

This is just a beautiful story that is so descriptive in the details of Sallies surrounding and of her heart. You can’t help but not to be swept away in her dreams. Not to mention that this is a page turner to the very end.

All of Beverly Lewis books have such intriguing characters and plots. Most of all a message about our Christian walk. This story I see waiting on God to direct our paths and not trying to please others but, letting go and let God direct our way.

I’m not going to give away the story. I enjoyed this story and look forward to more books from Beverly Lewis.


ReneeK is a sweet tea addicted mamma who loves to cuddle up to a good book. She blogs at Little Homeschool on the Praire and writes about family, homeschooling, having a special needs child, and about whatever else tickles her fancy.

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