Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge by Carey Casey (editor)

I’m still relatively new to the whole father game. The Little One just crossed the 18-month threshold and I’ve only just come to appreciate that I’m not yet the kind of father I want him to have. I realize that I need to intentionally strive to become the father I want to be.

These thoughts were swimming in the back of my mind as I sat down with The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge. What I wasn’t thinking about was who wrote it. Discovering that Carey Casey was both the editor and a contributing writer was a joy. (It was also a delight to see that his son Marcellus authored a chapter as well.)

I was excited about this discovery for a couple of reasons. First, I worked with Carey, his wife and their daughters over the course of two summers in the National Camp Office of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. As an avid book-lover, it’s hard not to be excited when you pick up a title by someone you know. The second reason is that during my time with FCA, I had the privilege of watching Carey interact with his children during happy and stressful times and his example has long been one I have looked forward to implementing as a father myself.

As far as the book itself, I really enjoyed reading it. Each chapter is a succinct bit of wisdom, transmitted father to father. Each author’s unique perspective and experience as a father underscores the wisdom of their words. Chapters end with a specific challenge to enact and space to detail a plan for how to achieve it.

In a nod to the “always connected” reality of today’s world, QR codes are scattered throughout the book that connect to online content designed to help encourage fathers on their journey. As a father who does not have a smart-phone (mine’s kind of bright, but wouldn’t be close to the top of the class), I appreciate that all of the extra content can be accessed through the web addresses right next to the QR codes.

The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge will push you to become the father you wish you were in a positive, uplifting way. I highly recommend it to all fathers with children of any age.

The Rating: 
 4 of 5 stars (An interesting book that kept me turning the pages.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: 
I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, November 7, 2011

A (Short) Night of Music with Dala

This weekend, we took the Little One to his first concert. He lasted a solid 25 minutes before meltdown. Not too bad for 18 months old.

I think he might've lasted a little longer if the gals in Dala weren't as good at connecting with their audience. His interest waned during the talking portions of the show, but boy did he love listening to the "pretty girls" sing.

Of the handful of songs we heard before our forced exit, my favorite was a bouncy tribute to the attraction of opposites called Lennon-McCartney.

We were planning on attending all along, but decided to grab a seat for the little one at the last minute to give him a chance to practice sitting still. It'll come in handy later when we go to the SAU Galvin Fine Arts presentation of Dakota Jones and the Search for Atlantis, a children's musical we'll be seeing in December.

I think we might need to practice a little bit more to make sure he'll make it through the whole show.

Anyone have any advice on getting a little one to sit still for a whole performance?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Review: America: The Last Best Hope, Volume III by William Bennett

Looking back on my years as an undergrad, I often regret not taking more history courses. Actually, not more history courses, any history courses. I took U.S. History I and U.S. History II for college credit my senior year of high school. This was great for me in high school as it allowed me to receive college credit for taking classes in my favorite subject, but the drawback was that I had finished all of my college history requirements before even setting foot on campus.

These days I indulge my love of history with titles like William Bennett’s America: The Last Best Hope, Volume III. I haven’t the pleasure of reading his first two volumes, but I devoured this one in two evenings.

Bennett doesn’t make secret his political leanings or specific thoughts on the makers of history (he footnotes them and his own connections throughout), but he presents a very balanced treatment of the events of American History from 1998 to 2008. Bennett has an easy writing style and doesn’t make an attempt to defend his opinion on the events of history, but simply presents them from his point of view. As someone who worked with many of the “movers and shakers” of this period, Bennett enjoys the unique position of being able to provide not just the facts but also how they drove the decisions of those involved.

Though it heavily focused on the political side of history, I found the occasional forays into the nonpolitical history to be the most enjoyable sections of the book. I’d have liked to see the book balance more between the world of politics and other items of historical note, instead of focusing so much on the politics of these decades.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in history, though those of us who indulge a deeper interest will certainly get more out of it.

The Rating: 
 4 of 5 stars (An interesting book that kept me turning the pages.)

Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review: The Radleys by Matt Haig

Supernatural creatures trying to blend in with “normal humans” is a fairly popular plot device in fiction these days. What makes it fresh in Matt Haig's "The Radleys" is that half the family doesn't know they're keeping a low profile. Actually, they aren't even aware of their supernatural nature.

Though parents Peter and Helen know what they are, they've deliberately kept their children in the dark. Claire and Rowan have always been weak and prone to sickness, due to their inadvertent avoidance of the very thing they don't know they need. An attack on Claire by a drunk, overly amorous classmate sets in motion her and Rowan's discovery of both their true nature and their parents' deception. Haig interweaves this discovery with bits and pieces of back-story that sheds light on their parents' desire to abstain in the first place.

What are they abstaining from? Blood, of course. Similar to that other family of twinkly, Pacific Northwest abstainers, the Radleys act just like their "unblood" neighbors on sleepy Orchard Lane – except when they don't. And when they don't, their violence is spectacular and horrific.

The narrative picks up speed when Peter turns to his alluring, but wantonly cruel, brother Will for help. With Will's presence come new secrets and complications that force Peter and Helen to face the consequences of their long-standing deception.

The Radleys is a philosophical novel about honesty and the perils of identity crisis set against an acute moral conflict. Haig develops each character carefully and brings the narrative to a satisfying, but somewhat sudden, conclusion.

If you have more than a passing interest in the supernatural, but are overwhelmed by the avalanche of current supernatural fiction, pick up The Radleys. It's a well-written novel that won't make you feel empty after you're done reading.