Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Know You're Getting Tired . . .

. . . but I've got books that need to be bought. I'm making it easier than ever. You can now purchase my first two stories at

Something Special at Leonard's Inn retails for $7.00. You may purchase it for $6.00 (plus shipping) at Amazon.

Just a Simple Carpenter lists for $10.00 but is being sold for $8.00 (plus shipping).

Both books make excellent Christmas gifts. Buy one for yourself, one for your friend, and then link the purchase info (or this post) to all your friends so they can have a happy Christmas, too.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Clockwork Three – Matthew J. Kirby

Matthew Kirby is a new author (for both me and the reading audience in general). In his day job, he works with children as a school psychologist in Utah. If this debut novel is any indicator, he may be changing his day job soon. “Why?” you ask. I think that the success of this first novel can be attributed to his love for telling stories—according to his bio, he’s been doing it since he was a youngster.

The city in the story bears a strong resemblance to 19th century New York because of the inspirational story of a boy who almost single-handedly derailed the abusive child-labor practices. Kirby’s story focuses on three children who have their own spectacular stories to tell. Giuseppe is a young street musician whose life is changed the moment he fishes a beautiful green violin from the wreckage of a shipwreck in the bay. Hannah, a maid in the grand hotel in the heart of the city, is struggling to be the sole support of her family (a disabled father, his wife who must stay home to care for him, and two younger sisters—twins). She has given up her hopes of education although she continues to read the classics. A strange guest with a Russian protector becomes her friend and provider. And then, there is Frederick, the orphaned apprentice of a humble clockmaker. Frederick is focused on becoming a journeyman so that he can open his own shop.

The story brings these three together in the most unlikely of situations. It is filled with action, adventure, and magic. The characters—heroes and villains alike—are compelling and lifelike. But the most exciting part of the book is its destiny to become a classic. Kirby’s use of descriptive language and movement provides excellent examples to be used in any literature or creative writing class. He is truly a wordsmith of the highest degree.

I have to give him five out of five reading glasses for his first effort, and can’t wait to get my hands on Icefall (his second novel due out in October). [Modesty prevents me from begging for a review copy—actually no it doesn't and I'm begging, Scholastic are you listening?]

—Benjamin Potter, September 15, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Enemies of the Heart – Andy StanleyEnemies of the Heart – Andy Stanley

© 2011 Multnomah Books, Colorado Springs

This year, Andy Stanly decided to re-release a repackaged version of It Came from Within. The result is this little volume subtitled BreakingFree from the Four Emotions That Control You. The original had always been tempting to me because it had much cooler if exceedingly less relevant cover art. In this book, Stanley deals with issues of the heart; those things which keep us from doing what we know is right. He addresses those things that make us say, “Where did that come from?” “That’s not like me,” and similar exclamations when we say something or act in some way that seems totally out of character.

The simple answer to the question of where that (comment/action) came from is “It came from within.” Those out-of-character, less-than-stellar reactions that we encounter from time to time are an outward expression of something that is going on deeper down, in our heart (using the term metaphorically to represent our spiritual self). Stanley carries the example through well in the book relating our spiritual condition with the physical condition that relates to our heart—and what causes heart disease. Physically, we understand it is poor habits—whether at the gym or at the table. The author asserts that we can practice daily exercises in our spiritual lives that will strengthen our spiritual heart in the same way.

Stanley identifies four culprits that rob us of our spiritual heart health: guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy. He includes the analogy of debt to represent each of these. Guilt says I owe you; anger says you owe me; greed, I owe myself; and jealousy, God owes me. He builds a pretty good case for each of these dynamic debts including Scriptures that address each one. He doesn’t simply point out the problem, though. Stanley is sure to offer a solution to overcoming each of these behaviors. Simply put, he suggests developing habits that defeat these enemies—confession, forgiveness, generosity, and celebration. He closes the book with a chapter on passing these good habits to the next generation living in your house, and a short chapter on lust which he claims is an appetite to be managed rather than an enemy to be overcome.

The book is a great means to address the underlying issues that result in the ugliness that is sin in our lives. The only drawback that I see in the book is that it leans toward the misconception that we are able to develop any of the overcoming habits outside of faith in Christ. Not that this is the intent of the author, just an observation about the book. In any case, I would recommend this manual on moving beyond the destructors of our relationships to any believer in Christ, and give it four and one-half reading glasses.
—Benjamin Potter, September 1, 2011

[Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.]

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