Category Archives: @ashertopia

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

Audrey Niffenegger, the best selling author of the beloved The Time Traveler’s Wife, indulges her dreams as a teenager with The Night Bookmobile a graphic novel both written by and drawn by Niffenegger.

The Night Bookmobile
by Audrey Niffenegger
Abrams ComicArts
September 2010

Like all good stories of love and lust, this one starts with a fight. Lexi, our narrator and main character, is out walking late at night after an argument with her boyfriend Richard when she happens on a Winnebago blaring Bob Marley. The door is open. She glances inside to find a librarian sitting at the wheel inviting her to view the collection of books. The collection is every book that Lexi has ever read – novels, school books, even her diary. After reading for most of the night, Lexi takes her leave promising to come back. When she does come back the next night she finds the bookmobile missing.

Lexi’s search for the bookmobile continues for years; her obsession with the books she is reading (and thus adding to the collection) knows no bounds. By the time she finds the bookmobile again – or perhaps by the time it finds her again – she is alone and consumed with reading. This cycle is repeated as we find Lexi pulled further and further away from the world and more and more into her lust for books.

I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that I was surprised and disappointed. After reading the Afterword the ending makes a little more sense. Lexi’s obsession with books should be read as a cautionary tale of lusts and addiction gone awry. However, since Niffenegger ends the book on such a positive note she seems to undermine that moral leaving the reader with an almost too positive outlook on obsession: obsession as an ultimate reward in itself.

There is no doubt, regardless of the ending, that this graphic novel is very well done. Niffenegger’s stilted, put-upon amateur art style is perfect for this story. The art clearly conveys feeling and setting without overwhelming the story. Unlike so many graphic novels today, this book remains story driven and the art serves the story. This is not about splash pages and action shots. This is about emotion and a woman driven.

A stellar artistic debut from the best selling author. I look forward to the next one.


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 current events and Christianity.

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

Originally Published at BuddyHollywood.com

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

In the most recent 111th congress, representatives discussed and argued new laws concerning regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) as food (for instance, should cloned animal meat be sold and consumed and if so should it be labeled?), a carbon emissions trading scheme (also known as Cap and Trade) where polluters trade carbon credits as an incentive to lower carbon emissions, green jobs to help with the United States jobless rate all the while dealing with radical Islam and its rise in the Middle and Far East. Proponents of these regulations asked us to imagine a world where global warming cause sea levels around the world to rise, where GMO foods are the norm and unanticipated damaging side effects cause food shortages and possibly contagions and oil and other non-renewable resources are no longer in abundance. Fortunately, we don’t have to imagine this world. Paolo Bacigalupi, Hugo and Locus award winning author, has done it for us.

The Windup Girl
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Night Shade Books
2010

The Windup Girl is set in a future Thailand where steep walls are all that hold back the rising seas, where gene-ripping (using genetic material from food to create genetically modifying foods) has led to terrible food shortages as meddling with the food sources has led to several incurable defects that not only destroy the crops but also infect humans virally, and where countless refugees live after leaving certain death in China after an Islamic revolution and subsequent purge. Gone are the empires and nations of our time, replaced instead by powerful corporations that hold power by constantly creating new versions of food that the starving world needs. The Thai Kingdom is one of the final South Asian nations still independent of the militant corporations and their quest for dominance.

If the setting alone doesn’t set Science Fiction fans salivating then consider the characters and their actions to the terrifying future setting. Bacigalupi adds murder, revolution, countless “gun” fights (with weapons that use springs to shoot spinning discs instead of bullets,) racial and religious tension, the mob, and more all surrounding one unassuming windup girl, a genetically modified person (called New People,) held captive and sexually abused nightly for the pleasure of a curious mob at a seedy bar.

When tensions between two powerful government agencies rise to the tipping point, the windup girl becomes the key player in the future of the Thai Kingdom as she struggles to rise above her genetic programming and secure her freedom.

The setting is timely and filled with social commentary without being heavy handed. Like good Science Fiction should, The Windup Girl sets about asking the question of what if as a way of warning us of the possibilities. This book isn’t about taking positions on current debates and laws. Instead it takes for granted that the worst imagined has happened. Now what?

Not an easy book to access, Bacigalupi uses language and social customs that fit perfectly in the Thai scenario and setting. Unlike movies like the Prince of Persia where Caucasian actors play Persian characters and speak with weak English accents, The Windup Girl is authentic. I was never once startled out of the narrative by an out of place or time phrase or word used. Once past the steep learning curve, the book really hits its stride as the several forces in the story align against each other and characters are revealed for whom they really are and who they work for. The last hundred pages are breathtaking. The conclusion is uplifting and terrifying at the same time. It will stay with you long after you put this book down.

The Windup Girl is an excellent work of literature that should find itself on a short list of modern must reads in the same vein as venerable classics such as 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 (while at the same time being somewhat more entertaining.) A must read.

Originally Published at BuddyHollywood.com

The Red Tractor & Halfway Herbert by Francis Chan

Francis Chan, bestselling author of Crazy Love and Forgotten God, gives fans another reason to celebrate: a line of children’s books. Fully illustrated beautifully by Matt Daniels, these colorful and large children’s books are great looking and excellent resources for Christian families looking for a children’s book that doesn’t star vegetables.

In Halfway Herbert, we meet a child who does everything halfway. He brushes only half his teeth, ties only one of his shoes, eats only half his food. Importantly, he only pays attention half the time as well and soon finds himself in a bit of pain. When he only tells half the truth he find that being halfway isn’t good for him.

The story quickly moves from entertainment to instruction when his father calls him on his half-truths mixing in Herbert’s actions with how God wants him to act and love. Herbert’s father tells a parable and soon Herbert is convicted (full-way) of his errors, praying and vowing to do things all the way going forward.

While the ending is a little heavy handed compared to what we normally get from children’s books it is hard to say that Chan is wrong to move the story in that direction. It is rare to get a Christian book that directly challenges readers – or children – to make good decisions because God wants us to. Furthermore, as adults we may grimace a little at the abruptness, children won’t. I read this book to my four year old and he took the change from story to teaching in stride and loved the book. A very good children’s book for those in the market for Christian alternatives.

In a little village, the farmers had an old red tractor that they used each year to plow the ground. They would start up the tractor, then using a rope pull or get behind it and push the tractor around the field one row at a time. They would take so long plowing this way that they finished just in time to plant and then harvest.

One day, the farmer Dave found the owners manual, which read “How the tractor was made and all the great things it can do.” Dave read the whole manual one night and was excited to tell the others that the tractor could actually move on its own. Unfortunately, no one believed him. Undeterred Dave started working on the tractor, fixing it up. Once it was finished being renovated, he started it up and plowed the field in one night. The people of the village were astounded, calling it a miracle. The people of the village were now able to grow so much produce that they were able to share their veggies with surrounding villages in need.

Chan uses the story to illustrate the use of the Bible in our daily lives. We can do things we have never even considered or things we wouldn’t now believe if only we went to the owners manual.

More obvious (for adults) but less preachy than Halfway Herbert the main draw of this book is the tractor. Little boys, like my son whom I read this book to, love the tractor and the action in this story. The moral is obvious and easy to digest. Chan does a great job breaking down the need and the desire for more in life and how it is easily obtainable if we go to the right sources.


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 current events and Christianity.

These books were provided by the publisher as review copies.

Originally Published at BuddyHollywood.com

Master of the World by Jules Verne

I’m going through a phase where I’m reading quite a few classics and – as in this case – books by authors of classics. There is something special about the way that English in literature was used a hundred years ago. I love the tempo and naive hope and civility of the stories. And thanks to Librivox.org, many of the classics are available by excellent readers for free. Verne’s book was read by Mark F. Smith, one of the best readers – at least as good as any professional I’ve listened to. So when I decided to listen to this book I was excited by the prospect of another great classic. Verne’s greater known books are adventure and excitement, dashed with science fiction. I expected the same here, but was sorely disappointed.

The Master of the World is about a man who creates a machine that can change forms between automobile, submarine, boat and airplane. At the time of the writing, submarines and airplanes were anticipated but not realized. To readers of this time, an automobile that could travel 120-200 mph would indeed seem near impossible. As a result of the invention, the Master of the World decides to flaunt his superiority, ignoring offers by governments to purchase the invention. Investigator Strock is charged with discovering and capturing the madman before his invention can cause harm to citizens of the United States.

One would think, as I did, that the premise would serve up an adventure worthy of reading. However, the book is a complete failure. The hero is merely a bystander, affecting the plot and the story in almost no way. The chase is wholly unsatisfactory. The resolution is so ridiculous and abrupt that when it was over I cried out loud, “Really? That’s it?!” Nothing happens in the book. And the book is not worth reading. By far the worst book I’ve read in years. There is a reason this is not a well known story by Verne.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. He reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com and previously on Bookboro. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

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

Hot X:Algebra Exposed by Danica McKellar

Danica McKeller is a genius! One of the subjects most in need of some excitement is math and she found a way to do that. McKeller takes the subject of algebra and curls its hair, does its makeup and buys it a new gown. We are left with an amazingly easy (and fun) to read book that takes the mystery out of the feared subject. Each section has info on the topic at hand, then peppers in Quick Notes (tips), Step-by-Step examples (showing work), Takeaway Tips (reminders) and a bunch of examples on how to do the topic.

I was so enamoured with the book that I gave it to my daughter who is 11 years old to see what she thought (and how this played out with the target audience. After all, every parent is looking for the next best way to help their children learn but we all wonder if it actually works.) Here is what she said about the book:

Arieltopia: This book was about how easy algebra is when you understand how to do it. I think it is a great book and I recommend it for all young ladies in junior high through high school. Girls only because it talks a little about guys, but not anything parents would need to worry about. I really enjoyed this book and I hope you do too. The author has also written two other math-related novels. This book is written by the New York bestselling author of Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail. Her other book is titled Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss. The three are related and at the bottom of every page, page numbers in the other books are listed in case you are either lost or just do not understand. This book really does help. My math grade increased alot and I can only use some of the facinating algebra tips in this book. Just think what it would do for girls in high school! I really learned alot of cool math tricks and I hope you pick up a copy of this book right away!

I agree. This is a great resource for parents and teens alike.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. He reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com and previously on Bookboro. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

Arieltopia is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She is an 11 year old avid reader – usually going through a book a day – who gives readers a unique perspective on Young Adult and Teen Fiction; an actual teenager’s perspective. Her blog is http://Arieltopia.blogspot.com.

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

Support BookGateway.com by purchasing this book through Amazon: Hot X: Algebra Exposed

Warlord by Ted Bell

Alex Hawke, Ted Bell’s popular cross between James Bond and Dirk Pitt, wants to die. When last we read of his adventures, in 2008’s Tsar, the love of Hawke’s life along with their not-yet-born child were taken from him. Warlord picks up the story a year later with Hawke attempting to drink himself to death. Then comes a call from his close friend, his Royal Highness Prince Charles, with a problem that only Hawke can solve.

Warlord
(An Alex Hawke Novel)
By Ted Bell
William Morrow
2010

In a matter of pages Hawke changes from docile with a death-wish to the in-shape and ready-to-kill hero that readers know and love. For the sake of his friend Prince Charles Hawke promises to find the killer behind a deadly threat to the Crown. With the aid of his trusted friend Ambrose Congreve he sets out on a quest to solve the murder of Lord Mountbattan – possibly committed by the same man who made the threat against Prince Charles. Meanwhile in Miami, Americans Stokely Jones and Harry Brock are at work infiltrating a new multinational terrorist organization, the Sword of Allah, after several attacks. Like all good adventures, the stories merge and we end up with the heroes united against a common enemy. And of course, the good guys win.

As far as action adventure books go, this is cookie cutter. The amazing, almost ultra-human hero, takes on problems with style and charm and on the way to saving the world gets the girl. This is James Bond minus the high tech weaponry. It is Dirk Pitt without the archaeology. As far as adventure books go, Warlord isn’t bad. The story moves quickly and the action is intense and satisfying. But not everything worked for me.

I was disappointed with Hawke’s attitude at the start of the book. Ted Bell attempts and fails to transition Hawke into a deeper character by detailing Hawke’s sorrow and loss. Readers are meant to understand the gravity of the loss by how far the hero has fallen. But how far has he really fallen? Hawke’s one page physical recovery and his sexual encounter with the first woman we come across in the book belie the real Hawke (and Ted Bell): shallowness is in their DNA.

Warlord is a popcorn novel, pulp adventure with little depth but much action. If that is what you are going for then you will be supremely satisfied. If you are looking for something more then look elsewhere.


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 current events and Christianity.

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

Originally Published at BuddyHollywood.com.

Blending Time by Michael Kinch (BuddyHollywood.com)

Turning seventeen isn’t as exciting as it used to be… say, back in 2025. Because in 2069, turning seventeen means that you are ready to be assigned to a permanent work assignment by the Global Alliance.

Do well in school and differentiate yourself and you may get out of digging a canal for the rest of your life. Jaym, a poor child of a single mother is seventeen and running out of job options. Reya, daughter of refugees from the desert formerly known as MexiCal doesn’t have a choice. D’Shay, a young man with a history of mistakes has no shot of getting a good career without bribing a hacker. All three think that they’ve made it by avoiding canal duty. Their job: go to Africa, where the population cannot reproduce because of a terrible solar flare damaging their genes, marry a pre-chosen mate then repopulate the continent. But the Blender program they’ve been chosen for isn’t all it seems.

Once they get to Africa they find a world very different than their training prepared them for. With no support from the Global Alliance, they have to make their way in a land filled with rebels and abject poverty…

CONTINUE READING AT BuddyHollywood.com

Interview with David Trotter

I had an opportunity to interview David Trotter, the author of an incredibly important book, Lost+Found: Finding Myself by Getting Lost in an Affair. Trotter was married with two children to his college sweetheart and a pastor of a successful church in Southern California when he decided to give everything up to pursue a relationship with another woman. This shocking memoir left me with quite a few questions and much more to think about. David was kind enough to provide honest answers to go with an honest book. See my review and then go buy the book – it is highly recommended.

Scott Asher: This is one of the most intimate behind the scenes look at adultery that I’ve ever seen or read. I assume that most people who have gone through something like this would want to sweep this under the rug and move on. What made you want to write this book?

David Trotter: In December of 2008, I outlined the entire book on a plane ride back from India, but it just sat there as a three page document within the protected confines of my laptop. I wasn’t ready to write about it. It was too painful. It brought tears to my eyes just to think about it. As the months passed by and my life took on a new normal, I gained courage to share my story…until one day…I started writing.

With each sentence that formed, I surprisingly experienced healing within my own heart and life. By authentically sharing my hopes and dreams combined with my rock bottom experience, I was liberated from much of the guilt, disappointment, anger, and resentment I felt in my own life. To share my story of depravity and redemption in such a raw form was healing in and of itself. I would spend focused time allowing the story to flow out of me…oftentimes closing my eyes as I typed and recounted my experiences.

The primary reason why I wrote Lost + Found (and my wife allowed it to be published) was for the benefit of others. Rather than sanitize my story, I have chosen to tell it as I remember it. My desire is for the reader to experience the highest ‘highs’ and the lowest ‘lows’ as I search for the life I always wanted. In my opinion, the power of the redemption is fully experienced against the backdrop of the depravity of my search. The response from people who have had affairs or been hurt by affairs has been overwhelmingly positive. And, it’s been amazing to hear from people who have no connection to an affair at all who have been equally inspired and challenged.

Asher: Knowing that your wife and children would have access to this book after it was published caused me to cringe several times during the narrative. You didn’t seem to hold back on any of the details, even the details about the satisfaction and quantity of sex with Samantha, and the raw language, for a couple examples. Now that this information is out there how did your family react to the full story and how do you handle your children having access to the story?

Trotter: Although my wife didn’t read the book until it was completely written, she had full power to pull the plug on the project at any point in time. She read the book in one sitting, and I know it was challenging to read about my entire experience. As she processed through her thoughts and feelings, I simply listened. In the meantime, I gave her full license to edit out any and all parts…which she did in several places within my story. The manuscript sat dormant for several months until my wife felt like she was ready for it to be made public. As you can imagine, it was a very sensitive process for both of us.

During that time, we discussed the ramifications of the book on both of our children. Since they are young (7 and 11), they really aren’t interested in the story…especially since they lived through much of it. Some day (at an appropriate age), I’m sure they’ll ask to read it, and I’ll be ready to process through their responses with empathy and compassion.

Asher: One of the creepiest parts of the story for me was when you and Samantha would read the Bible together. It just seemed so twisted to me for two people engaged in such a conspicuous and life altering sin to be discussing God. In fact, on several occasions you mention that you discussed what you thought God thought of the situation but there weren’t a lot of details about your conclusions other than He “probably didn’t like it.” So clear this up for readers: what did you think God thought of your actions and how did you rationalize your actions?

Trotter: I’m sure God did not approve of us leaving our spouses to be with one another, but I didn’t really care in the moment. Because my soul was so parched and weary, I was willing to drink ‘mud’ in order to satisfy my thirst. It nearly killed me. My mind wasn’t trying to rationalize anything…I was just trying to survive every day.

At the same, I don’t think God abandoned me…nor did I abandon God. That’s a hard thing to digest for most Christians. Samantha and I went to church each week, and we spent more time talking about God, reading the Bible together, and praying together. Just because we’re doing something that’s unhealthy and sinful, it doesn’t mean that God leaves us in the dust. In fact, I sensed God’s presence in powerful ways. His Presence doesn’t equal approval…it equals love. Believe me…I was definitely experiencing the natural consequences of my sin.

Asher: It seems like Kirk was a very important friend throughout this process. His line, something like “You can’t sin your way out of my life,” was awesome! My concern with him is how passive he seems to be in your relationship, never really pointing you in the right direction but rather it seemed like he was just along for the ride. I understand not wanting to be preachy or pushy, but doesn’t it seem natural that someone who loves you and sees you doing yourself harm would want to intercede and point you in the right direction and do you think Kirk should have nudged you in the right direction a little more?

Trotter: Since Kirk went through something very similar in his own life, he knew that correction would never have worked. It would only have driven me away from him. It’s not as though I needed someone to tell me that what I was about to do was ludicrous. I didn’t care. I was done caring. I just wanted out. In cases like mine, unsolicited advice rarely works…it usually just makes the person doling out the advice feel better about themselves.

Asher: Kirk seems like a natural selection to walk through this situation with you since he went through something like this and restored his marriage in the end. Ron and his wife, on the other hand didn’t seem like ideal mentors in this situation because, if I understand correctly, they are Christians who both left their spouses to marry each other. Ron seemed to me like the devil on your shoulder to Kirk’s angel; always showing you a way to make it work with Samantha. Frankly, I’m at a loss as to how I should, as a reader and a Christian, respond to Ron. Why did you go to him for support and in the bigger picture how should Christians respond to the Rons in our life?

Trotter: Ron and his new wife were (and are) dear friends, and they loved me no matter what…when I was with my wife, with Samantha, and even after she left. They were more interested in me than who I was with. No matter what decision I made…they were willing to walk with me. In their own lives, they experienced people who rejected them in the midst of their decisions, and they knew how important it was and is to walk with people.

This is a messy situation. Some people are willing to walk with the Rons of the world, and others think it’s their Christian duty to shun them. It’s hard, isn’t it? The other day, I had a reader ask me about God’s perspective on new relationships and marriages that come initially from an affair. I asked that question myself. “When will God be okay/approve of the new relationship?” No easy answers. All I know is that God forgives, and God wants each couple to have an incredible, intimate marriage. Would God want to equip and empower you to have the best new marriage possible? Seems like it to me. You are forgiven, and God loves you tremendously. Go and sin no more. (Sound familiar?)

Asher: I was disappointed with the angry and hurtful reactions of many of the people who you used to pastor. I believe that responding with anger and lashing out at you was un-Christian of them. But then I wonder how would someone appropriately act in that situation? Should they embrace their “fallen” pastor and his mistress? Should they lay low and pray for you? Imagine I’m someone who just heard you speak at a conference and this just happened at my church. How do you advise me to act?

Trotter: It all depends on your relationship with the pastor. If you’re a close friend, I’d encourage you to reach out to him or her. They don’t need to be reminded that it’s not appropriate. Express your care for them, pray for them, and resist the urge to gossip and slander. Trust God with the results.

If you’re not a close friend but someone who attends the church, pray and stand against anything that appears as gossip, slander, or dissension. Develop compassion for the pastor by searching for those times in your own life when you’ve lacked integrity. In the same way that you want God to forgive you in your own life, work toward forgiving the pastor in your own heart. If you don’t think your life could implode in some way, you’re mistaken.

Asher: Something that seemed to be missing in your narrative (or at least omitted from much of the story) is a reliance on reading Scripture and prayer. How much did prayer and scripture reading impact your decisions during your journey back to your wife and equilibrium?

Trotter: Although reading Scripture and connecting with God through specific times of prayer is important, I found that God used daily conversations with my three friends and therapist to speak in profound ways. You’ve got to remember that all things associated with ‘church’ and ‘ministry’ were part of the process of selling God. Reading the Bible and prayer represented the process by which I received a message to share with my congregation…and less about connecting with the Creator of the world. As I continued to deconstruct my faith (and view of ministry) and reconstruct a new relationship with God, I find myself turning to Scripture and prayer more often than ever before.

Asher: It seems at one point that you have so much going on with family, being a pastor, and multiple projects that it overwhelms you and you end up on a destructive path. When I look at where you are now you still have your family, are still a leader or pastor of a new community, and have a bunch of projects (books, website, India and speaking.) What have you learned and what steps are you taking to avoid becoming overwhelmed and burned out again?

Trotter: The key for me is to continue embracing my true identity, which is found in the context of being created by a loving God. It’s found in understanding who God says I am and what God has planned for my life. It’s not about trying to impress others or become ‘somebody’ in this world. It’s not about the adrenaline hits that come from accomplishing a big goal or completed an important project.

My wife and a few close friends are people that I’m in daily and weekly process with in terms of the state of my heart and the workload I carry. In addition, my wife and I continue to go to therapy on a monthly basis to ensure I stay on track and my wife retains a strong voice in our relationship.

Frankly, I have more time than ever before. Although I have seasons when there are intense projects on my plate, I’m enjoying life and being present with my family and friends. I love my new normal.

Asher: Who is your target audience is for this book and why does it matter? Is this a Christian book?

Trotter: I didn’t set out to write a ‘Christian’ book per se. In fact, I knew that some of the content and language would turn some Christians off, but that was okay. I really valued telling my story in a way that was authentic to what happened. I wanted people to feel the ecstasy and the pain of the story…experiencing the tension of it all.

My primary audience is anyone who feels ‘stuck’ in their life…whether they have any background with faith and spirituality at all. When we lack freedom and feel like we don’t have any real options, we can make unhealthy (and even destructive) decisions in an effort to find what’s missing. In reality, there are many options I could have taken that would have led toward health and wholeness without having to walk through hell.

May those who’ve experienced an affair one way or another be challenged to see that grace and reconciliation are possible. May those who feel ‘stuck’ know that a healthy freedom can be theirs. May those who don’t think that it could ever happen to them be warned. And, may those who are critical and self-righteous be filled with compassion.

For more on David Trotter, his book and his ministry visit DavidTrotter.tv.


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.

Originally published at BuddyHollywood.com.

B is for Bufflehead by Steve Hutchcraft

I read through B is for Bufflehead with my four year old son and was surprised to find that it kept his attention throughout. I expected him to get antsy with only pictures of birds and too many words for him to follow along with me. That is the beauty of this book: the photos are amazing. The birds in this book are so exotic that you can’t help but to stare in wonder and then turn the page in anticipation.

However, it seems to me that the publisher let this author down. The pages look like they were put together with graphics from the early 2000’s; it looks cheap. I know that this is independent, but the package disappoints.

Also, once we’d seen the cool bird pictures, there just wasn’t much incentive to go read the book again. Like curiosities in a circus: one time was enough.

I liked the book and I want to encourage it’s purchase if only to support work like this, but the package was amateur, and the re-read value was low.


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.
Support BookGateway.com by purchasing this book through Amazon: B is for Bufflehead

Lost+Found by David Trotter

David Trotter had a wife and two children. He was a successful preacher and leader at a very large and successful church he planted in Southern California. He was well respected in the community. He seemed to have it all, but the years spent trying to eclipse past success lead to his downfall. Lost+Found is his story.

Lost+Found: Finding Myself by Getting Lost in an Affair
By David Trotter
Nurmal Resources
2010

Finding himself in a marriage that lacked connection and a job that took up too much of his time and energy David found himself struggling to maintain equilibrium. On a mission trip to India, the pressures – external and also, importantly, internal – he found an answer to his life’s lack of passion: another woman who happened to be his wife’s good friend. Their mutual attraction and flirting continued even after getting back to the United States and soon they found themselves planning on leaving their spouses, giving up their life and running away with each other. Then they did. David resigned from his church, packed his bags and moved in with his lover. After 40 days, the affair ended when David’s mistress decided to go back to her husband and four children leaving him alone: no church, no family, and only a couple of friends willing to associate with him.

Lost+Found is the story of how one man can throw everything away trying to find what he is looking for, what is lacking in his life, only to recognize that it was in front of him the whole time. This book isn’t a cliff hanger as the sub-title gives away the ending. After David suffers a mental breakdown and works through his issues he ultimately decides to pursue and win back the wife he left. The ending isn’t what makes this book fascinating. It is the journey. Rarely do we get to see from the inside an honest recounting of how actions and situations lead to devastating sin in someone’s life – especially not in the life of a ministry leader. David Trotter does just that, and he pulls no punches.

This book is so raw and so unswerving in its effort to be honest that I sometimes felt I was reading the juiciest gossip ever. For instance, David recounts that the first night that he spent with his mistress they were up until 3 a.m. having sex. He doesn’t hold back or try to whitewash the feelings that were going through him as he flirted with another woman. The conversations that he writes about, cuss words and all, are raw and realistic. And when he breaks down we get an inside look at what he was thinking while it happens. Everything about this story is shocking and honest and … amazing.

I read this book in one sitting. After reading thousands of books in my life I had never done that; Lost+Found is that compelling. I had to know what happened next. I needed to understand what was going on in the mind of this successful pastor. I wanted to know so it didn’t happen to me. This story isn’t about Super Christian overcoming his sins and being restored to righteousness. It isn’t a happy or good story at all because the hurt and pain that David caused lives on in the lives of so many of his previous acquaintances and his former flock. I’m not sure most readers will end up liking David or even be happy for him and his reconciliation with his wife because of the terrible decisions he made. But this book isn’t about David at all; It’s about us. While reading it I could not avoid putting myself in his shoes and evaluating my life and that makes this book immensely important.

This is a story for those who think that this cannot happen to them as well as for those who have sinned so that they can find hope in forgiveness. An important book that should not be overlooked, I cannot recommend Lost+Found more highly.


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 current events and Christianity.

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

Review originally published at BuddyHollywood.com