Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Night Watchman: Book Review

When I sit down to read a book, I want that book to draw me into the story from the first page. I don't want to have to suffer through a chapter or two before I really get hooked in the plot. It has been a while since I've read a book like this...a long while. That's why I was so excited to read The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir. From the first page I was hooked. I read the 300+ page book in only a few days (which says a lot considering my limited reading time).

The book tells of policeman, Ray Quinn, who was forced into early retirement after a shooting that crippled him and killed his partner, Trisha. Feeling sorry for himself, he struggles through life searching for the reason he was left and his partner was not. When a murder-suicide of a pastor and dancer takes place at the condos he guards by night, he is drawn into investigation again by the suspected murderer's sister, needing help to clear her brother's name. After several twists and turns, and an action-packed plot, he finds that this case and his own shooting may be tied together.

I am a big fan of NCIS, and this book was right up my ally. It gives hints and leads, but you never really know the truth of the outcome until the end of the book. I like it when I can't guess the guilty party. This is definitely one to add to the nightstand pile! I loved it!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hero: Book Review

HeroI'm really excited to offer a guest post by my amazing, talented husband, John UpChurch. Hero, by Fred and Jasen Stoeker, was more along the lines of a "guy's book" so I decided to turn this one over to him. If you're interested in seeing more of John's writing, head over to More Novel by the Week for writing tips and tricks from an editor or check out his website. Enjoy!!

Salvation brought disillusionment. With no one to blame but myself, I had the mistaken belief that once I was saved, temptation would wither away like a dead leaf. I was wrong, very wrong. While I was set free, I realized that living my life for Christ meant dedicating myself to a better way.

Part of my failures before God came in and turned everything upside down involved a failure to keep myself unpolluted from the imagery of this world (i.e., pornography). And salvation did not simply remove the source of that pollution. The world really doesn't care that you've been transformed and hopes you'll ignore what it means to be set apart. My missteps there didn't simply stop overnight.

But I was disgusted by it, and I thank God for leading me to a book that gave me a new understanding of where purity starts. Purity doesn't mean simply not looking at "the really bad stuff"; it means not looking at the gateway stuff as well. For men, gateway imagery is everywhere: TV, magazines, posters at stores--pretty much everywhere.

That book, Every Young Man's Battle (EYMB), taught me how to attack the root of the issue instead of simply pruning the leaves. It was for that reason that I was excited to read a new book from Fred Stoeker in the same "trilogy" (as he refers to it), Hero. (I missed the second book, Tactics, but it teaches young men to apply what they learn in EYMB).

For Hero, Fred partners with his son Jasen to show the fruits of living out a covenant to purity. Thus, much of the book discusses how Jasen learned to apply what his father had taught him and the rewards that came with it.

The core message of this book is that men aren't heros because of deeds or accomplishments; they are heros because of their commitment to being the man God created them to be. And foremost is a desire for true purity. The world provides many arguments against purity (sadly), but Fred and Jasen do an excellent job in knocking down each one.

Any man seeking to live for God--and seeking to be a better husband and father (either now or in the future)--should take this practical, biblical advice and run with it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gotta Love Those Links: May 11th

It's been a while since I've done a links blog, so I thought I'd share some inspiration from around the Internet. Just in case you're wondering where the recipes have gone, they will return. I'm expecting our second little blessing and cooking hasn't exactly been appealing to me. I'm hoping this phase passes quickly, and I can resume experimenting with the many recipes I have on my waiting list. You'll be the first to know when I'm ready. Well, OK, maybe John will know first because he'll actually have to eat it. :-) Anyway, back to the links.

Skip To My Lou has provided a great tutorial for sewing cloth napkins, particularly on finishing the corners. I love the fabric she used in the bottom example!

I really like this key holder How About Orange created. This would be a great catch-all for our house!

I have toyed with the idea of making yogurt at home, but the whole process was kind of intimidating...until I found this. Nourishing Days gives step-by-step directions for making yogurt in the crockpot. It looks so easy, I can't wait to try it!

I think these birthday counting cards are SO cute for kids! It really lets you get creative and personalize it for your little friend. Chez Beeper Bebe even gives you the template to make it easy!

On a non-crafty, non-food note, here is a great article about why it is GOOD for us to nap. It gives suggestions for making the most of your nap. And here is a handy nap alarm clock to make sure you rise when needed. :-) It has pleasant sounds to wake up to, which puts me in a better mood than hearing a rooster crow loudly in my ear.

Well, I hope everyone had a fabulous Mother's Day weekend! Hopefully you were able to spend quality time with your mom or your children. Have a great week!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day Book Review

Three great books just came out in time for Mother's Day, making them the perfect gift for a mom you know...or yourself.

Dear Mom--Every mom knows how communicating with a teenage girl can be difficult, even impossible at times. One-word answers. Defensive conversations. Daily arguments. How typical for teens to put up such barriers. All the while, moms truly long to know what their daughters really think.

Best-selling author Melody Carlson, whose books for women, teens, and children have sold more than three million copies, bridges this chasm with trusted insight. She speaks frankly in the voice of the teen daughters she’s written for and she tells it like it is: struggles with identity, guys, friendship, and even parents—it’s all here. The straight-talk to moms covers such things as “I need you, but you can’t make me admit it,” “I’m not as confident as I appear,” and “I have friends. I need a mother.”

Instead of focusing on outward behaviors, Dear Mom looks at a young woman’s heart and reveals to moms:

· how to talk to teens so they hear,

· how to connect despite the differences of perspective or years and experiences,

· and how strengthen the bond every mom and daughter ultimately wants.

The lively chapters in Dear Mom can be dipped into topically or used as a read-through tool by moms and daughters alike to understand what motivates or deflates, troubles or inspires—and just in time for Mother’s Day and all the Mother’s Days ahead.

Mama's Got a Fake I.D.

Formula for identity loss:

1. Take one multifaceted, intriguing human being.

2. Bless her with a child.

3. Mix with today’s cultural assumptions.

4. Add the demands of motherhood.

5. Presto! All identity except Mom disappears.

For every woman wondering what happened to the unique combination of gifts and abilities she was known for before kids came along, Caryn Dahlstrand Rivedeneira has good news: in Mama’s Got a Fake I.D., Rivedeneira helps moms reclaim their full identity as creative beings, gifted professionals and volunteers, loving friends, children of God—and mothers.

This inspiring and practical guide shows women how to break free from false guilt, learn a new language to express who they really are, and follow God’s lead in sharing their true self with others. After all, motherhood doesn’t have to mean losing one’s identity. Instead, being a mom makes it possible for a woman to discover a more complete identity as the person God made her to be.

Enduring Justice

In Enduring Justice, Hanna Kessler’s childhood secret has remained buried for over two decades. But when the dark shadows of her past threaten to destroy those she loves, Hanna must face the summer that changed her life and the man who still haunts her thoughts.

Crimes Against Children FBI Agent, Michael Parker knows what it means to get knocked down. And when the system fails and a white supremacist is set free, Michael’s drive for retribution eclipses all else.

A racist’s well-planned assault forces Hanna and Michael to decide between executing vengeance and pursuing justice. When the attack turns personal, is healing still possible?

This thought-provoking novel deals with healing from sexual abuse, the balance of justice and mercy, and maintaining mixed-race friendships in the midst of racial tension. Readers who enjoy investigative thrillers by Dee Henderson, Colleen Coble, and Catherine Coulter, and who watch crime dramas like Law & Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, and Without a Trace will love this book—and the entire series.

Hope this gives you some great ideas for summer reading. Enjoy!