Monday, September 28, 2009

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

In A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller works alongside two filmmakers to adapt his life to the screen as they write a screenplay of his life. Miller shares his thoughts on life as a story as he comes to the awareness that if his life were shown on the big screen the way it is, that the viewers would "stab each other in the necks with drinking straws." To summarize too much would ruin your reading experience of this book.

My thoughts
Let me start by saying this book changed me and the way I see life. I have read this book twice in the last few weeks, wrestling with what could possibly be said in a review and how I am going to "rewrite my life." Buy the book .

It motivated me to want to live a better story and help others do the same. Think about what makes your favorite movies or stories meaningful to you. "The elements that made a story meaningful are the same that make a life meaningful" (p.39). Buy the book
In his usual style of humor and mental wanderings, Donald Miller has released his most powerful book to date. I want everyone I know to read this book; I think it is that important. We all want to live a great story, but we don't want to pay the price and make the sacrifice to do it. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a challenge to live. So live!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart by Chuck Black

Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart by Chuck Black is Book 3 of The Knights of Arrethtrae series.


Sir Dalton is a knight in training, being raised up for service of the King and the Prince. He is well-liked and respected among his trainers and his fellow trainees. When a new trainer is brought in to lead the future Knights, Dalton immediately sees that something is not right, as the training becomes less serious and the adherance to the Code is minimized. When Sir Dalton is sent on a mission, he encounters Lord Drox, a shadow warrior, who imprisons him and ,after Dalton suceeds in an escape, tracks Dalton down and leaves him for dead. Dalton is rescued by an old hermit who provides him with the tools he needs to face his enemies, both within himself and those around him.

My thoughts

My initial reaction when I received this book was that I wouldn't like it. I am not generally a "Knight" kind of person (in real life or in my preference for books), but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised with Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart. It is not necessary to have read the first two installments of the series to appreciate it. Black has created a plotline filled with symbolism that will keep the reader engaged and anticipating the next clash of a sword or shadow of the enemy, all the while exposing the weaknesses of the heart and the crevices where doubt in the Prince can show itself. There were quite a few moments in my reading that I had to put the book down and deal with my own commitment level to the Prince. I have to admit, however, that there were times when the spelling of words resembling biblical names and places was a bit distracting for me, but the story and characters were interesting enough that I was able to get beyond it. Overall, I believe that this series would serve as an excellent tool for teaching young men and women some foundational principles in living in God's Kingdom. This is Black's intention, evidenced from the inclusion of discussion questions and answers found at the back of the book. I thought it was a fun and informative read and I may just pick up one of the other installments. Happy reading.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Samson and the Pirate Monks by Nate Larkin-A Review

Over the years, possibly thousands of books have been written for and about men and manhood. I have read many of them. Some were helpful and others, sadly enough, I felt did more harm than good. Samson and the Pirate Monks by Nate Larkin is in a category by itself. It is not a self-help book for men because it speaks against the idea of a man "helping himself." It is not a theological treatise even though it has scripture as it's foundation. The subtitle of the book describes it: Calling Men to Authentic Brotherhood. Authenticity and Honesty are the keys.


Samson and the Pirate Monks is divided into four parts.

Part 1: Confessions of a Preacher's Kid is the author's story told with brutal honesty of his struggles with addiction and sin.
Part 2: I, Samson contains a fascinating comparison between Samson and King David and the differences between how they lived their lives. Larkin discusses what he has learned about walking with other men.
Part 3: A New Way of Life addresses becoming a new man.
Part 4: The Pirate Monks tells the story of the formation and early days of The Samson Society, how The Society works, and the point behind each part of The Fact, The Path, and The Pact.

My Thoughts

I have to say first that the title is great. Pirate Monks, how cool is that! Adding Samson to the front of it make it even more intriguing. After reading the book, you will understand more of what it means. Larkin makes his points of the book primarily through a retelling of his life's journey which proves to be effective because most, if not every, man will find something he connects with that will make the overall point of the book deeply impactful. With a surface glance, the book could look like a promotion of The Samson Society, but since The Society collects no money or dues and doesn't own anything, what would the point of that be? The book is about brotherhood and men walking with other men in honesty and openness. Warning, this is not a book to pick up and use in your next men's bible study. It is also not a how-to guide to starting a men's group because, as The Samson Society website says, "Most of us have had it up to here with men's groups" It could help you in starting a group of The Samson Society, which I will guarantee will be different than most church men's groups you have attended and quit. Having attended a couple of meetings myself prior to reading the book, I assure you it is a different experience. If possible, attend meetings before starting one and never do it alone. Reading the book has helped me understand the purpose for the way things are done in the meetings.

I love this quote from page 139:

"In the Samson Society, it's our failures even more than our successes that bind our fellowship together. No longer are we spending our days alone in the darkness of our caves, hiding our failures for fear of rejection and ridicule. Instead we are walking together on a sunlit path that is taking us somewhere. We are carrying each other's burdens, and Christ is walking with us."

This book helped me to see my need for close bonds and connection with other men, something I have neglected most of my life. It has also revealed to me that brokenness, weakness, and pain don't keep me from being a man. It is these things that make me a man and opens the door for God to work in me to make me whole and work through me to do the same for other men.

I recommend this book for all men. Men, buy it and read it. Women, buy it for the men in your life. If it all sounds suspicious to you, visit

Saturday, September 12, 2009

North! or Be Eaten - A review

It began on the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. In North! Or Be Eaten, Andrew Peterson chronicles the travels of the Jewels of Anniera north to the Ice Prairies, where rumor has it an army is being assembled to take on the dastardly Fangs of Dang.

Laced with betrayal, family division, battle, and magic, Peterson has constructed an adventure unlike anything I have encountered since my first reading of The Hobbit. I was captivated by the people and places I visited. (Please don't take me back to the Fork Factory!) Watch out for the Stranders: those murderous, thieving scoundrels. You will continually ask yourself Who is friend and who is foe? as you travel with the Wingfeathers.

Peterson holds nothing back when he shows evil things as they are: pure shadow and in ghastly form. In contrast, the beautiful things ride on the golden song of the whistleharp and carry you beyond all that is wrong. Through it all, the theme of knowing your name and who you are is driven like a nail into the hearts of the characters and the readers alike.

I light a fire on the shore, waiting to see that speck in the distance, the ship that carries the Jewels of Anniera. I wait for the restoration of things lost. I wait for Book 3 of the Wingfeather Saga.