More Than a Skeleton by Paul L. Maier

Jenny Snow was spending her summer at an archaeological dig in Rome, not too far from Vatican City. The dig had uncovered a strange symbol on the floor of the synagogue. Needing someone to interpret the symbol, Professor Jonathan Weber of Harvard, Jenny’s husband and the hero from Maier’s A Skeleton in God’s Closet, the first book in this series, is called in. Due to all the other events in the story the symbol never really gets interpreted. Catholic Cardinals from all over the world were in Vatican City to elect a new Pope.

Suddenly, out of nowhere there appears a man calling himself Joshua Ben Yoseph, claiming to be the intermediate return of Jesus Christ to get the world in line with God’s purposes before the final return. Soon Joshua Ben Yoseph has a large following, including Snow and Weber, as he tours Rome preaching, healing the sick and raising the dead just as Jesus did. Most of the people believe that he is Jesus due to all the miracles he performs. This causes quite a problem for the Cardinals as they try to elect a new Pope.

Joshua’s name translates to “Jesus” in Hebrew and he claims to be born in Bethlehem to Joseph and Mary Ben Yoseph as invited to the Basilica of St. Peter for Vatican III and to welcome all the delegates from around the world. What transpires that day is unbelievable. You must read the book to fully understand the extent an unscrupulous person will go to fool the world.

What transpires as Professor Weber tries to prove that Ben Yoseph is a fraud makes for a very interesting story! The author clearly paints out just what people may believe if something is presented in an authoritative, plausible way. Paul L. Maier does an excellent job keeping the reader guessing in this Christian thriller.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com. She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.”.

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

Green by Ted Dekker

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.


Stephen Lawhead did an interview that was published in the back of a recent edition of his excellent Song of Albion trilogy where the interviewer asked him if he would ever go back to Albion and write a sequel. Lawhead answered with the equivalent of “No [bleeping] way!”

I first read Ted Dekker’s Circle Trilogy several years ago. I remember with vivid clarity the beautiful world that he created where God literally played with his followers. The scene in Black, the first book, where Thomas Hunter found the lake upside down and gravity non-existent was marvelous! As Michael said, “Oh, he sometimes does things like this.” loved it!
As the series went on I enjoyed the pace and grandness of the story. Would Thomas save the world? Was the world of Thomas’ dreams the future, an allegory for Heaven, or the real world? Again, I loved it. So when Green was announced I was full of anticipation of finding out what happened next.

Unfortunately, what happened was the proof that Lawhead was right. You should never go back. As I read Green, I became more and more frustrated that the book had been written at all. Once I finished Green, I went back and re-read Black just to be certain of my conclusions prior to publishing them in this review. My recollections were correct: Green should not be part of the Circle.

As a fan of the Circle Trilogy, I believe it was a terrible decision to write this book. The new ending/ beginning was completely unsatisfying (why would God do what he did at the end of Green when we already know what happens?) The addition of vampires was the nail in the coffin. If you want to read the Circle Trilogy go ahead. Just don’t read Green.

This book was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit ThomasNelson.com for more information on this book.

Treasured by Leigh McLeroy

How many books have we read to better understand God? Who is God? What is he like? Leigh McLeroy probes into these questions from a different perspective than most. A valid and (after-the-fact) obvious way. After all, the Scriptures say that you can tell what kind of tree something is by its fruit; how it behaves, acts. Isn’t the same true of God?

In Treasured, McLeroy seeks to know God by the things he keeps. This is a bit of a misnomer as God doesn’t actually keep the things that McLeroy talks about but rather interacts with them. Chapters like 1 A Fig Leaf talk about God keeping us after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were covered by God. In 12 One Smooth Stone, McLeroy describes God’s intentions and interactions with us and how he turns our stone-cold hearts to living ones.

Each chapter is bite sized and easy to read, starting with an anecdotal story from the authors life in most cases then moving on to a time in the Bible where God interacted with our ancestors making the connection that He still interacts with us the same way today. While the book doesn’t actually talk about the things God keeps as in items that God actually has, like the author’s cigar box. Rather the book is about what God, invisible and non-physical, holds tight to; what He treasures. This is a book about us, of course. Reading this book reminded me that we are His treasure and He is our portion. Highly recommended.


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.

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin


Beatrice Aurelia Monroe, a Pennsylvania farm girl, born 7-19-1848, the same day, month and year as the first women’s rights convention. She was too young to realize what a portentous coincidence it was but would later declare her birth date a sign from providence. Beve as she was called lived through the Civil War, commonly known as the “War Between the States,” helping on the farm when her brothers went to war. She met and married Horatio Garner a man far above her station in life and was never accepted by society or her mother-in-law. Horatio was a weak, lying drunkard therefore Beve worked to help pass Prohibition.

Her grandmother Hannah worked on the Underground Railroad to free the slaves during the war. Her daughter Lucy took up the cause of women’s Suffrage, becoming instrumental in getting the States to ratify the amendment. Beve’s grand-daughter, Harriet wanted to be like all the women in her family and have a cause.

Throughout the novel Harriet is trying to answer the question, “How did I end up in jail?”

One thing that we need to remember is that our short time on earth isn’t about what we accomplish but what sort of person we become. Lynn Austin is an excellent author of historical fiction and has clearly portrayed that each of us grow stronger each time our faith is tested. That is how we learn to trust God. I highly recommend Christian women everywhere read this passionate and compelling novel.

God Gave Us Love by Lisa Tawn Bergren

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.

God Gave Us Love is another new children’s book in the popular series “God Gave Us…” from Lisa Tawn Bergren with art by David Hohn published by Water Brook Press. The God Gave Us series of children’s books work through questions of faith and practice from the viewpoint of Little Cub and one of her adult family members. Is this story, Little Cub and Grampa discuss love in its various forms, including a great lesson on loving those who we may not want to love.

As I read this book to my three year old son I found him becoming impatient with the depth and breadth of information on each page and eager to move ahead to the next page and its colorful pictures. Some of the concepts seemed to me to be well above the heads of younger children as the author ambitiously attempts to break down three different types of love, grace and kindness into bites small enough to be swallowed by children. I’m not certain that many of the nuances, that frankly adults have trouble understanding, will in fact make sense to younger children.

Even if younger children miss some of the more in depth meanings of love, they will certainly understand that they should love everyone – even the otters who scared away the fish. This is another charming book in the series and well worth your time and money.

This book was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit RandomHouse.com for more information on this book.

God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.

God Gave Us Christmas is a new children’s book in the popular series “God Gave Us…” from Lisa Tawn Bergren with art by David Hohn published by Water Brook Press. Is this story, as Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate Christmas, Little Cub asks questions like “Who invented Christmas?” and “Is God more important than Santa?”

The God Gave Us series of children’s books work through questions of faith and practice from the viewpoint of Little Cub and one of her adult family members. In this book, it’s Mama’s turn to work though the questions.

Many times, children’s books are no more than a few colorful pages with a couple sentences each page. Not so with this series though. In fact, many of the pages are so full of information that I sometimes felt it was hard to keep my children’s attention while I read through paragraph after paragraph.

That is a minor quibble, though, as my children and I enjoyed the book and its vibrant artwork immensely. The questions Little Cub brought up lead to interesting discussion topics for older children, while younger children seem to easily grasp the theme of the story. As Mama points out, “It is God and Jesus that we celebrate most come Christmas. Was always want to thank God for giving us Christmas.”

This book was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit RandomHouse.com for more information on this book.

The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The Secret of Indigo Moon by G.P. Taylor

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.

I had previously started to read Shadowmancer by G.P. Taylor but hadn’t gotten in too far before I set it aside so I wasn’t expecting much out of his new series. The quote on the back cover of the book calling G.P. Taylor, “The new C.S. Lewis” didn’t help either. Yet, sometimes out of nowhere there comes a revelation. When I opened The Secret of Indigo Moon, book two in The Dopple Ganger Chronicles I had one of those moments.

The story is standard fare for youth fiction. A young man and his twin friends live at a school for abandoned children and stumble upon a theft and decide to investigate. Enter their enemy from the first book, along with a soft-hearted henchman, and a cast of interesting if unoriginal characters and you have the ingredients for a story that any middle schooler would enjoy. But it wasn’t the story that was the revelation. It was the presentation.

Open the book and you immediately find yourself in an amazing world of line art, comic book pages, fantastic fonts and typeset pages. Illustrations give form to the characters that imagination can sometimes leaves incomplete. Huge two-page drawings, like the clock on page 2 and 3, cause the reader to switch between reading to interpreting (you have to tell the time yourself,) and then back to reading on page 4 then to comics on pages 5 and 6. The multimedia experience keeps the reader involved from the start. I loved it!

It seems that anyone can write a teen fantasy judging from the volume of new titles on any bookstore shelf. But something different can serve to get a teen who perhaps doesn’t read to become a reader or those give those who like to read something different. G.P. Taylor isn’t the new C.S. Lewis but he did come up with a great idea for a series of books.

This book was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit Tyndale.com for more information on this book.

Mosaic Holy Bible

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.

As the culture moves away from modernism, simply understood as a way of understanding what we know based upon logic and “factual” foundations, to post-modernism, simply understood as understanding what we know based upon our perceptions and worldviews and not on foundationalism, the church has likewise moved away from foundationalism or modernism. Questions are being asked about why we believe what we do and how do we know what we believe is right. A key theme has emerged in this rapidly becoming post-modern society of rejecting the recent period of foundationalism from the Enlightenment till today. We understand that the world cannot be completely black and white based simply on what those before us believed. We want to know for ourselves.

As the society and the church move away from the last few centuries of so-called logic, rejecting much of the last several centuries’ worldviews, we have become interested in the ancient past and the non-westernized cultures for our roots. So while some in the post-modern church question the last several hundred years of Western scholarship we at the same time are hungry for what the original Christians believed and understood. We search for ties to the universal church and the roots of our faith.

Mosaic Holy Bible by Tyndale helps the reader connect.

The second half of the Bible is simply the New Living Translation but the real focus of this book is the first half. There we find a weekly devotional unique in its breadth and scope. Each week includes scripture reading, meditations and quotes by historic Christians – both ancient and modern, foreign and Western, as well as works of art, and empty space for notes. The weeks follow the liturgical calendar tying the reader further to the roots of Christianity.

The Bible is beautiful. Artwork is produced in vivid colors and clarity. The first section with the devotional is printed on sturdy paper allowing for note taking, while the back section is standard Bible paper. The Bible is hard bound. All together a very nice package.

I enjoyed skimming the artwork and the poetry. Seeing depictions of Biblical stories by Africans, Asians and Latin Americans served to bring home that our Church is bigger than we recognize. Quotes from modern writers like Mark Drischoll and J.I. Packer find a home along side John Wesley, Ignatius of Antioch, and Gregory the Great. We find contributions from Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Calvinist and more. The quotes and meditations were amazingly deep and varied.

The only thing I found myself wishing for was more. Reading one weekly devotion in 20 minutes left me wondering why there wasn’t a daily suggestion instead of a block of info that the reader decides when to read during the week. Needless to say, I found myself ranging far ahead of the week I was supposed to be in.

I very much enjoyed this Bible. I believe it serves as a precious reminder of how big the Church is. It is thousands of years and thousands of miles wide. I highly recommend Mosaic Holy Bible to you.

This Bible was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit Tyndale.com for more information on this book.

Israel Under Fire by John Ankerberg and Jimmy DeYoung

John Ankerberg and Jimmy DeYoung come together to create “Israel Under Fire: The Prophetic Chain of Events That Threatens the Middle East,” a book that promises to explain the Biblical predictions concerning the current events in Israel, how what happens in Israel affects the rest of the world, and answers the age old question, “Will there ever be peace in the Middle East.” To come to these answers Ankerberg and DeYoung interview – on location in Israel and the Middle East – many of the policy makers and experts who would be close to the situation, such as, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel and Reuven Rivlin, the Speaker of the Knesset in Israel.

Ankerberg and DeYoung are less authors than interviewers for much of the book (and interviewees, as I will explain.) The authors claim that the book will answer questions and give a Biblical basis for the current events in Israel. To accomplish these goals the authors provide a brief history how the modern state of Israel came to be and what exactly is currently happening in Israel. On these points, I found that the authors were successful. Unfortunately, this was only one part of the book.

In the second part of the book, the authors interview current world leaders and here is where I feel the book goes awry. I had two issues here. First, the authors advertise on the back cover that they interview Adnan Husseini, Yasser Arafat’s cousin and Palestinian Authority spokesman. While, it is true, it is a little misleading as he is one of three world leaders advertised yet he appears in only one very short section with only a couple of questions, while the others leaders, Jewish pundits exclusively, are interviewed extensively. This is far from balanced coverage.

Second, the authors didn’t just interview pundits they agreed with – they also interviewed each other. I understand that the authors may be experts in a field but their opinions should be bolstered by other expert’s opinions, statistics, reports and the like. Author’s opinions should not be proved by their own opinions. The issue of lack of documentation and proof isn’t just relegated to their opinions in interviews. Unfortunately, the authors take comments and opinions from pundits they agree with for granted, moving right past controversial quotes that cry out for data that reinforces the opinion. The only reference in the book to an outside source (other than the Bible) is on page 156 (of 174).

In the third section of the book, the authors attempt to tie current events with Biblical prophecy. I would expect that anyone, after reading this book, even someone who has no experience with Biblical prophecy or current events, would be able to walk away understanding the “prophetic chain of events that threaten the Middle East.” What I found in this section, though, was confusion. To explain a complicated book like Revelation, I would expect we would start at the beginning and work our way through the (purported) time line from start to finish. I would expect that current events would be tied in to the timeline to show how the events fit into the puzzle. I would expect that the authors would show how these events work together to fulfill prophecy. Unfortunately, Ankerberg and DeYoung did not make a convincing connection for me.

While I did find the first section of the book interesting, this book left me unsatisfied in my search for connections between current events and Biblical prophecy. Revelation itself is already difficult to understand and I found the authors didn’t accomplish their goal of making it accessible and understood by the reader.

As much as I would have liked to, I cannot recommend this book to anyone but Bible prophecy buffs.


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.

C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters

Focus on the Family and Tyndale take C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, a series of imaginative and insightful letters from a senior demon, the title character Screwtape, to his novice nephew Wormwood, and add over four hours of audio by an accomplished cast of actors, like Andy Serkis, Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies as Screwtape, and 10 original songs written for this production all in 5.1 surround sound. The Collectors Edition comes with 4 CDs and 1 DVD in a tri-fold case with original artwork with a slipcover. All 10 original songs are included in their entirety on disc four. Disc 5 includes behind the scenes featurettes.

Anyone familiar with the original book by Lewis will instantly recognize his witty and timely message; nothing is lost in the translation. The actors play their part just right – not too over the top and certainly not blandly. The original score hits just the right creepy note. The benefits of the 5.1 surround sound can not be over-stated.

The packaging is well done and gives the impression of worth even though the set only costs about $27 on Amazon.com
. ($39.99 MSRP.)

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this well done audio dramatization of Lewis’ excellent book. So many times the publishers don’t put in the effort on audio books and we end up with a lame soundtrack read by a boring voice actor. Not so with The Screwtape Letters. I highly recommend it to you.

For more information visit the official site.


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.

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