Category Archives: Guest Reviewer

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

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 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 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 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 whenever she gets a chance.

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

Support 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.

The Lost Virtue of Happiness by J.P Moreland & Klauss Issler

The Lost Virtue of Happiness is about accessible, balanced Christian spirituality.

In a bipolar culture overrun by two diametrically opposed philosophies of happiness, Moreland and Issler offer an alternative. They assert while that happiness comes not through the mindless pursuit of pleasure through consumption, neither does pleasure darken virtue into shades of vice. They help us understand that true happiness comes from within, not without and that it is actually a virtue—the natural outcome of giving up the things that diminish our joy.

Having laid a strong foundation, Moreland and Issler move on to an remarkably simple presentation of how engaging our whole lives in spirituality through discipline is related to happiness. And then, chapter by chapter, they provide a framework of simple disciplines and suggestions to improve our relationships with God and others, focusing on opening our hearts, strengthening our minds, and taking risks.

There is even an entire chapter on applying some of these disciplines when dealing with anxiety and depression. While this particular application may not speak to everybody, it is certainly relevant in a culture where we are anxious for nearly everything.

I found The Lost Virtue of Happiness an intellectually stimulating, personally challenging, and practical book. It was easy to read and is well organized. But make no mistake, this is no “one-size-fits-all” self-help road map to supposed success. Rather, its goal is that we be united with God and formed into the image of Christ and enter into his joy.

Bryan Entzminger is a saxaphonist, supply chain analyst, elder at Springhouse Worship & Arts Center, and a superhero to his wife and daughter. His widely read personal blog is bdentzy – Thoughts for the Journey.

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.

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 the husband of a wonderful wife and is the father of three children. His wife blogs at BooyaBooks.

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