40 Loaves by C.D. Baker

There are so many devotionals available that most of the time I feel I’d rather not try to wade through them to find the one that would fit me. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I read through a devotional at all. I know it’s been years. Till now.

C. D. Baker’s 40 Loaves is different. Very different. How about topics like, “Why are Christians so hard for me to like?” and “Why am I afraid to read my Bible?” When Water Brook sent me this as a review copy I had only one word with which to respond: awesome!

I loved reading through one man’s struggles and finding the answers that worked for him. I found that not all of his answers worked for me, but that’s fine, because the process of working my way through tough questions about faith, love, the Bible, God, anger, frustration and so on are what grows me. A devotional that moves me along the path God has for me was just what I needed, and 40 Loaves hit the spot.

I recommend this book for anyone who is struggling with so-called deep questions about faith and doubt, any one who also asks questions like, “Why do I only pray in emergencies.” An honest book that turns into bite sized devotions the struggles and faith of the author. This isn’t some preachy, everything will turn out right devotional. This is real.


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.

The Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

The Templars have fallen on hard times in this young adult horror / fantasy novel by first time novelist Sarwat Chadda. Hunted down by the church and demonic forces over several centuries, only a small group of Templars remain to hold back the darkness. Residing in modern London, Billi SanGreal, the reluctant teenage daughter of the current Head Master of the Templars, Arthur SanGreal, is the newest member of the knighthood. Things take a turn for the worse – possibly Armageddon worse – when one of the Templars accidentally draws the attention of the Angel of Death. What follows is a predictable young adult fantasy with an ending that the reader will see far in advance.

Though predictable in plot, the characters are interesting and the take on the genre is compelling. For secular fans of the genre, this book is worth purchasing and foretells a promising future for Chadda. But for Christian readers the book signifies something more, and less desirable. < This book is the unfortunate result of the popularity of modern fantasy set in real world locales that mix myth, legend and religion into an unholy concoction resulting in the dumbing down of the three complex ingredients. When religion, which most of the world recognizes as real - not fantasy - is mixed with and then placed on the same level as myth or fantasy it becomes equivalent to fantasy, something that faithful readers of all religions should be concerned about. Targeting these books at young adults further complicates the issue as young faithful readers receive a message mixing myth, legends and reality in a way that can make it hard to distinguish between them. In a society that is increasingly Biblically illiterate this spells trouble. To be clear: I have no issue with fantasy. In fact, it is my favorite genre. Fantasy realms like that of Harry Potter, for instance, are set in a fictionalized real world but diverge from reality when it comes to sacred religion. This is vastly preferable as faithful readers can enjoy books like Harry Potter without worry that the author will pit the fantasies of that world against the realities of this one. Because of the equivocation of myth and religion in the world of the Devils Kiss, I do not recommend this book to faithful readers. Secular readers may enjoy a generic, although entertaining young adult fantasy.


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.

Fool-Proofing Your Life by Jan Silvious

Jan Silvious is a good friend and co-host with Kay Arthur with Precept’s Ministry. She’s an accomplished speaker and author. With credentials like this one would think she wouldn’t be published as a gift / budget book, but she is with Fool-Proofing Your Life. Priced at $6.99 (suggested) the book sports colorful if generic artwork on the cover and paper one step better than newspaper quality. If Silvious isn’t a name you recognize it is entirely likely that this book would be overlooked by most buyers. And that is the shame of it.

Fool-Proofing Your Life deals with something we all deal with in our over-medicated, over-indulgent culture: crazy people. I’m not talking about certifiably crazy, I’m talking about the people in our lives who drive us crazy with their actions. Or as the author and the Bible call them, “fools.”

Each of the three Parts, Is there a fool in your life?, Relating to your fool, and Wising up, include sub-sections like Think About It, where pointed questions guide the reader in the right direction through self discovery, Go to God About It and Go to the Bible About It, which both move the reader through prayer and scripture to come through the section with a Biblical view of how to deal with their reaction to the fools in their lives. Chapter 5 alone is worth the (small) price of the book with its’ succint definitions of the types of fools the reader may encounter and how to deal with them.

Well written and full of wisdom this book may not look like much but is hard to pass up at this price point.


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.

Between Sunday’s by Karen Kingsbury


In Between Sunday’s, Karen Kingsbury takes you into the world of the NFL, specifically the San Francisco 49ers. While the players are fictional, the stadiums and games are come across as accurate and genuine. The novel mainly focuses on three players. Derrick Anderson, an older, seasoned quarterback who comes to the 49ers to mentor and encourage the other players; Aaron Hill, a younger quarterback with several seasons under his belt, and Jay Ryder, a rookie punter and wannabe quarterback.

This is Derrick’s last season and he wants desperatly to win another championship ring to fulfill a promise he made. He already has two rings, but needs a third for a reason only he and his wife know. Derrick is a family man, deeply rooted in his faith, living his life by God’s grace.

Aaron is an arrogrant playboy, king of the hill, living only for the moment and the adoration of the fans and media, with no time for God. Aaron has a couple championship rings and thinks that winning this season would be great, but it’s not something he is overly concerned about. After all, he has his whole life ahead of him to win Super Bowls, right?

Jay is young and a little shy, this being his first season in the NFL. He wants to fit in with the team and is awe struck by Derrick and Aaron. He has some faith, but is not completely committed.

San Francisco has a large contigent of foster kids. Megan Gunn volunteers at the Youth Center as well. She is a single foster mom to Cory. Amy, Cory’s mother, had been a close friend to Megan before she died tragically. Cory is a big fan of the 49ers. Derrick is a very compassionate person and tries to reach out to the kids. In the off season, he hosts pizza parties at a Youth Center. Derrick gives away five game tickets each week at the pizza party. Cory wants desperately to win a ticket and attend a game because Cory has a secret – he believes he is the son of one of the 49er players. Megan, of course, doesn’t believe him, attributing his belief to the fact that he so wants a father. She thinks this is just his fantasy and tries to discourage him, but Cory insists his mother told him and his mother did not lie.

Kingsbury takes you through the hopes, dreams, injuries, disappointments and trials of the coach and his players in the NFL. Will they make it to the Super Bowl, and if so, what are their chances of a win? The novel clearly points out that we are not defined by what we do on Sunday, but what we do Monday through Saturday. Between Sundays is a novel for all ages, and especially NFL and 49ers fans.


Note: In real life, Alex Smith, the current 49er quarterback founded the Alex Smith Foundation for foster children. His foundation provides provides support, funding, and a chance at a fuller life.

99 Ways to Build Job Security by Gary Nowinski

Looking at the book, no doubt you wouldn’t think much of it. Plain cover, undersized and clearly for the budget conscious, this book does not look significant. But on the inside there are a multitude of significant nuggets of wisdom! Like most “value gifts” the “99 Ways…” series is far more about what’s on the inside than the outside.

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher, WaterBrook Press, as a part of a blog tour for value gifts, along with Fool-Proofing Your Life, which I will review in the coming days. I admit that I was hoping to receive 99 Ways to Stretch Your Home Budget or 99 Ways to Entertain Your Family for Free. But when I started reading the bite sized wisdom I realized that this book was exactly what I needed.

In an economy like this, with job security on so many people’s minds I found an easy outlet for the 99 Ways… – at my job! I started quoting Ways to my direct reports that I believed would benefit them, like #6 Self-Confidence and #89 Self-Defeating Thoughts. They were a hit!

Value gift books can sometimes be overlooked because of their presentation but at least in the case of the 99 Ways… series I believe that you should give them a second look.


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.

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.

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