Category Archives: Guest Reviewer

The Devotion of Suspect X

“Sometimes all you have to do is exist to be someone’s savior.”- Keigo Higashino.

The Devotion of Suspect X
by Keigo Higashino
Minotaur Books
February 2011

In Keigo Higashino’s latest must read The Devotion of Suspect X being a savior is a common theme. Every girl dreams that one day she will find a man with the devotion to go to the end of the earth to save her from even the smallest amount of pain and this is exactly what Yasuko, the main female character finds in this book. In the first few pages, Higashino introduces Ishigami, a math teacher, who has a crush on his neighbor, Yasuko. Yasuko is a single parent, struggling to make ends meet for her and her daughter by working at a lunch box shop in Japan. Each day, Ishigami visits the shop where Yasuko works to get his lunch, because this is the only guarantee that he will get to exchange a few words with her.

Yasuko becomes unpleasantly surprised to find that her exhusband, not only knows where she works, but also shows up unannounced to her apartment. She had worked very hard to insure that he would never find her in her new life. Once he forces his way into the apartment, he begins to make suggestive comments to Yasuko’s daughter. The daughter becomes very upset and hits the man over the head with a vase. This turns into a struggle in which the only option Yasuko has is to kill the man, before he kills her daughter. Ishigami happened to over hear the entire struggle and immediately sees a way to make sure Yasuko never forgets him again. He offers to not only help conceal the murder, but to assist both women with their alibis and divert the murder investigation.

This book was completely full of twists and turns, and I would have never guessed the ending in a thousand years. I find Higashino’s writing style captivating and I consider this book a definite must read.


Amanda King is a college student trying to make a difference. She is involved in several volunteer organizations and is always looking for a way to impact the lives of others. Although that takes up most of her time, her true passion is reading and she enjoys the ability to use books to escape from the ups and downs in everyday life. Check out Amanda’s personal blog HERE.

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

Lucifer’s Tears by James Thompson

James Thompson’s novel Lucifer’s Tears was a follow-up to Snow Angels. Although I did not read the first book, Lucifer’s Tears quickly captivated me and it was very easy to pickup the story line although it was a follow-up book.

Lucifer’s Tears
An Inspector Vaara Novel
by James Thompson
Putnam Adult
March 2011

Lucifer’s Tears is set in Finland in the present day, but there is a strong American outlook on the events and the culture of the book. Kari Vaara, who is an inspector in the police department, narrates the story in first person. Kari has experienced a very troubling history with both his personal life and his job and this affects his every waking moment. Both Kari and his wife moved to Helsinki from near the Arctic Circle when his wife was offered a job as the manager of the area’s finest hotel. When they moved to the area, Kari was promised by the chief of police that he would have a spot on the homicide unit. After he was forced to play a waiting game, he and his overzealous partner, Milo, were finally assigned to a very horrific sex crime that was much more complex than just the death of a young lady. While Kari was investigating that case, he was also assigned to work a case for an elderly man that served alongside his grandfather in the war. The elderly man was at the risk of being punished for crimes that were committed against Russians and for executing many Jewish prisoners at a war camp. Although Kari is faced with very time consuming cases, his biggest worry is that his wife, who is currently pregnant, may have the misfortune of miscarriage again. Kari blames himself for the previous miscarriage and he is terrified that the stress from his past and his current job, will somehow affect the current pregnancy. For much of the book, Kari is unable to sleep or eat due to a constant migraine that has been plaguing him for a number of weeks.

Thompson’s takes all of these details and weaves them together to create a gripping story that has readers begging for more. Furthermore, Thompson’s depiction of the history of Finland and the war that occurred was simply astounding. He is able to both capture reader interest and educate at the same time, which is very important when books have complex plots. I felt as though I was going through each struggle and triumph alongside Kari. I was a bit disappointed in the ending of the story, but I can’t help but hope for a sequel to see how the story really ends.


Amanda King is a college student trying to make a difference. She is involved in several volunteer organizations and is always looking for a way to impact the lives of others. Although that takes up most of her time, her true passion is reading and she enjoys the ability to use books to escape from the ups and downs in everyday life. Check out Amanda’s personal blog HERE.

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

The Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman

Time travel is fun. Some authors are extraordinary for being able to transport you to another time period. Some authors don’t have to transport you to another time because they are already from another time.

The Memoirs of W. T. Sherman
By Himself
1875

A few years back I found myself reading the Memoirs of U. S. Grant. It seemed that for a few months I kept running into statements claiming that General Grant had written the finest set of memoirs ever penned by a Unites States President. I took and plunge and discovered a fascinating life described in a beautiful clear lucid prose. Grant could write!

I only mention Grant’s memoirs because they were the incentive to tackle General Sherman’s memoirs as well. Much to my surprise (though I don’t know why I was surprised) I discovered that Sherman could also write. The prose is a bit wordy but straightforward, clear, and penetrating. You can see how such thinking made a real difference in the outcome of the Civil War.

There is something beautiful and simple about reading Sherman’s accounts of the war and the times. He tells of captured officers being invited to dine with the Union commanders and offered horses to ride befitting their rank. At other times he muses about how cavalry can never overcome infantry but will always be necessary for a successful war campaign. He talks about the need for a good supply of coffee and discusses the merits of some coffee substitutes.

You also discover that General Sherman did more than march through Georgia. During the Mexican American War he was stationed in California. This assignment placed him in the bay area in 1848 when gold was discovered at Sutter’s mill. Later he managed a bank in San Francisco when the vicissitudes of the gold rush created severe panic as well as boom times. It would surprise many to learn that when Lincoln was elected Sherman was leading a small military school in Louisiana that would later become LSU.

Anyone who has even a passing interest in this period of American history will find this a fascinating read. There is much to feast on here. My two favorite moments are probably Sherman’s encouragement likely keeping Grant from resigning after Shiloh and the striking circumstances surrounding Sherman being notified of Lincoln’s assassination.

It’s a fairly long book and filled with a lot of source material such as letters and battle reports, but altogether a book well worth reading.


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.

Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

This novel begins near my new hometown in Nashville,Tennessee. The battle of Nashville to be exact.
The year 1864. Where, after a horrific battle, our hero is buried alive. That is also where his story
begins.

Within My Heart
Timber Ridge Reflections, Book 3
by Tamera Alexander
Bethany House
September 2010

This is a great book on many levels. You watch in intimate details as the Lord weaves these
hearts together. All of the characters become alive as you watch each one’s story unfold. You feel
their great joy, their heartbreaking grief and triumphs in their faith. You are involved.

There is much more than a love story here. The lonely doctor and the widow with two sons, each with
their own fears to overcome. One’s is a heart gripping fear and the other from experiencing great grief.
I know one part of this story I will never forget, is the gravedigger’s. If I were a betting person, I would
say you won’t either.

This is my first time to read anything by Tamera Alexander, it won’t be my last. I highly recommend
this novel.


Diane Kennedy Henderson, a self described “Silver Saint” is a retiree who loves to have fun, spending days
playing games online, reading and spending time with family and friends.

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

Love Wins by Rob Bell

I am not a Rob Bell fanboy; however, I do have a generally positive opinion of the little exposure I’ve had to his ministry. When Love Wins was first being reviewed and its author was being held up in many quarters as satan’s chief apostle my first instinct was ignore it. (There are only so many books one can read.) Finally, the clamor reached so close to home that I had to give in and read it for myself. I don’t like to let third parties do my thinking for me.

The uproar is understandable. Bell has a habit of asking hard questions. He also has a tendency to not provide definitive answers to the hard questions he asks. And when those questions concern the issues of heaven and hell and the possibility of universal salvation…well, the sacrificial fat is clearly sizzling on the altar.

It is hard to pin down Bell’s position and I am strangely OK with that. I suspect the reason is because these are some very complex questions and the Bible is somewhat lacking in absolute clarity. Where the Bible is lacking in absolute clarity we extrapolate dogma at our own risk. Honestly, when it comes to eternal things I think the Bible gives us the best picture we can possibly process from our finite frame of reference. Sometimes that picture seems confusing because things that seem exclusive of each other in this world can actually be essential to each other in the various dimensions of eternity. (What sense does it make in this world to die in order to live?)

Do heaven and hell exist? Of course they do, and Bell would be one of the first to assert their reality. He does have a little different take on what, and when, heaven and hell are but he certainly doesn’t deny their existence. Far from making them smaller and less meaningful he actually makes them bigger and more meaningful. I think there is room for disagreement among true believers on this topic especially since none of us have ever really been to either place. I actually find Bell’s concept of heaven to be challenging and somewhat more exciting than big mansions and streets of gold.

The real problem most Evangelical believers will have with this book concerns the question of universalism. Is everyone going to be saved? Can a person find redemption after this life? My inclination on both of these questions is to say, “No.” However, “No” does give rise to some legitimately serious questions and both positions can be argued from scripture with some powerful verses backing up each camp.

At this point I feel compelled to point out that Bell’s position on universalism is essentially identical to the one held by C. S. Lewis. Having read almost everything by Lewis my thoughts had already turned to The Great Divorce and The Last Battle as well as various quotes from his lectures. I was not at all surprised when Lewis was cited in the end notes. Both Bell and Lewis seem to essentially hold the position that God is going to save everyone He can. They both believe that a person can go to hell but they have to really want to go there. That assertion is not as strange as it may sound. Lewis’ The Great Divorce is a fantastical story but it shines a big bright light on human nature.

Am I comfortable with the notion that if everyone is going to be saved, or can be saved after this life, then strenuous efforts need not be made to bring people to Christ in this life (and the sooner the better)? Not at all, and that is not what I hear Bell saying. Am I comfortable with allowing God the right to do what He wants however He wants and would I be thrilled if everyone did get in to heaven? You bet. Do I know exactly what God is going to do about all of this? No, but I trust Him.

This is a short book and Bell doesn’t even try to tie up all the loose ends. (I would be quite interested in hearing his take on the “second death”.) What he does do is open a conversation that the vast majority of Christians who have ever lived would be comfortable having. It is only in the Western (mostly North American) church and over the last two to three hundred years that these issues have been considered resolved and beyond discussion. Hopefully once the journalistic hype and reactionary hysteria have died down this little book can make a positive contribution to the advancement of God’s kingdom. Frankly, after all the hate and vitriol in the current Evangelical dialogue I’m quite ready to see love win.


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.

In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer

I really liked this book. From beginning to end you were caught up in what would happen next. The characters are believable and likeable, flaws and all. From very severe and sad situations, like poverty and abuse, each came to the orphanage with their own baggage.

In Every Heartbeat
by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Bethany House
September 2010

The three main characters Libby, Bennett and Pete often helped each other carry said baggage in a 1914 United States on the brink of war. But with determination to overcome, they each set out on different roads. Though the road was often rough and lonely, each found his/her strength drawn, for two of the three, from a new found faith, and for one his faith severely tried and found to be more than sufficient, a firm foundation.

One thing that made this book special was the honesty in the day by day trials overcome by faith as well as the overwhelming trials overcome by that same simple faith.

Simply put, a great read.


Diane Kennedy Henderson, a self described “Silver Saint” is a retiree who loves to have fun, spending days
playing games online, reading and spending time with family and friends.

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

I’m Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards

In 2000 only a handful of people saw the value of pure search clearly, and many of them already worked at Google. Quietly, steadily, and without even a hint to their colleagues down the hall, the engineers were building a plan to share their vision of a perfect hammer with a much wider audience.

Because they knew the world was full of nails. (p.140)

Iʼm Feeling Lucky
(The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59)
by Douglas Edwards
July 2011

In 1999 Douglas Edwards was a successful middle aged marketing and product development manager for the San Jose Mercury News. He was married with three children and a mortgage. This seemed to be the perfect time to leave the security of a well paid semi-prestigious position and go job hunting in the wildly uncertain jungle of dot com start ups. Most people in his position who followed that rainbow ended up with a ticket on the Titanic. Doug ended up on Apollo 11.

There are some moments when is seems that Doug just wrote this book to rant about some gal named Marissa; however, even those moments often come off entertaining due to the engaging style of writing. Everyone has a Marissa in their life and while she tends to drive us crazy, in this case the author can at least give us some appreciation for her strengths. It seems that everyone at Google has strengths. When a
company starts out with smart people and has a policy of not hiring anyone who isnʼt at least as smart as you are… well, things can escalate pretty quickly.

In addition to being quite entertaining Iʼm Feeling Lucky offers clear insights to what makes Google click. Itʼs called being Googley and it is a dynamic mixture of brilliance, very hard work, very hard play, vision, and a creed that basically consist of “Donʼt Be Evil.” It also consists of an aversion to the standard rules by which Corporate America tends to operate. Sergey Brin, one of the two company founders, once seriously suggested that they take al of their marketing budget and use it to inoculate Chechen refugees against cholera. Why not increase your customer base by saving lives? (Thatʼs a new one for corporate America.)

From the free candy and good home cooked meals, to the company wide ski trips, to a corporate mindset for frugality that innovated placing fifteen hundred servers in a rented space where most companies only placed fifty this book is a revealing insiderʼs view of one of the most fascinating corporations on the planet. Through out the book trends in corporate DNA emerge that makes it pretty clear that Googleʼs secret search algorithms are only one ingredient in the “secret sauce” of their astonishing success.

Doug Edwards writing style is lucid and generally does an excellent job of making sense out of what appeared on the surface to be a fairly incoherent slice of history. Who should read this book? Anyone who is interested in computers and the internet. Anyone who is interested in corporate structure or entrepreneurship. Anyone who is interested in marketing, or the lack thereof. And finally, anyone who is having trouble with any gal named Marissa.


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.

Help Support a Child Affected by HIV/AIDS

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

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

Every five seconds my daughter dies.

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

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

Together we can make a difference!

Scott Asher
Founder & Father

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

Cinco De Mayo by Michael J. Martineck

A mind changing event, simultaneously across the globe everyone experiences excruciating pain that lasts a matter of seconds and then instant relief, as if your mind has completely reset.  Then the memories slowly flood in, but these memories don’t belong to you. You have another person’s memories as if you lived them yourself.  You can feel what they felt, remember smells, and even how to speak different languages.  A rich playboy learns what it is like to be a Indian slave boy, a man in Chicago suddenly has recollections of murder in the Aryan Brotherhood, a third grader can speak fluent Korean,  an ad exec in New York experiences life as a blind railroad worker in China.  Phones begin to ring as people’s Others begin calling, because they know everything about them. They know phone numbers, family member names, bank accounts, personal details, everything about their lives and they know their other knows just as much about them. There is nothing hidden, nothing left behind. And no one has an answer as to why this happened.

How weird would it be to trade memories with someone? Learn every single possible memory in someone’s head. There were numerous characters introduced in this book and a lot of them overwhelmed me a bit. It was overwhelming with everything that was going on and the POV switches so suddenly (each chapter was one to three pages long and rotated between the characters).  Then in the end even more characters were introduced that we had never heard from before. I felt at times the book was overly condensed and skimmed over each person’s life. I wanted so much more! It really had me wondering if this could actually happen.  Overall it was a good read.


Amanda Gray is a book lover who generously supplies reviews to BookGateway.com whenever she gets a chance.

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

Support BookGateway.com by purchasing this book through Amazon:Cinco de Mayo

Hunter’s Moon by Don Hoesel

I have just completed reading Hunter’s Moon. Several times during this process I felt I would not reach that point. I had read more than three chapters before I could really say who the story was about – the whole book was so disjointed! The story was believable, but I think if the author had put it together in a smoother vein, it would have been more of a pleasant read.

Most of the characters were incomplete. That one correction would have given this book more subtance. More background on why the evil characters were the way they were would have given them more substance as well. There was no emotional attachment between the reader and the main character. He seemed not to have a clear emotional connection with any other characters. The timelines were jumbled and not being clearly defined made it even more difficult to follow.

The religious antedotes seemed insincere, placed in situations as if an afterthought. I saw nothing in the main character’s actions that showed any type of convictions or any depth of his “conversion”. It is true he had a lot of mental and emotional baggage, but even this was not explored enough to strengthen the character’s motives. Needless to say, I was dissapointed.


Diane Kennedy Henderson, a self described “Silver Saint” is a retiree who loves to have fun, spending days
playing games online, reading and spending time with family and friends.

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