Top Books of 2010

A new year already? Sheesh!

I haven’t been able to read as much this year. I hope it changes, but I still read some good books and want to feature the best I’ve read from 2010. The first link is to the book’s Amazon page, and the second link is to content here at Spoiled for the Ordinary (SftO).

5. The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead. The opening salvo in the 5 book Bright Empires series, Lawhead continues his skillful use of British legend for story fodder. StfO discusses it here.

4. Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. Good writing is good writing, whether a book is written primarily for a male or female audience. This book is considered “contemporary fiction” even though it may seem geared toward a female audience. Anyone who appreciates well-written fiction will enjoy this tale of a terminal woman making a way for her young daughter in the hometown she left behind years ago. I give it a manly thumbs up in this review.

3. Lost Mission by Athol Dickson. This book sparked a lot of discussion during the CSFF tour, and was one of the most provocative we’ve reviewed. The book started slow, but those with patience will find a rich tale of faith that wrestles with issues of immigration, legalism, license, and grace set in the Southwest in both the 1700’s and modern day in an intricately woven tapestry. There is much more in these posts.

2. Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand.  This book introduces us to Roland March, a Houston detective nearing burnout. In a gritty, true-to-life voice, Bertrand draws us in to the ups and downs of March’s last chance at getting back into homicide investigation. Noted in SftO posts here

1. Listen by Rene Gutteridge. She has hit the #1 spot in my list before with one of her comedic books. This time she brings a tale of suspense that deals with the power of words. Conversations in a small town start being posted on an anonymous website, causing a lot of strife when private words become public. This is what I wrote in my review this year:

However, the book is more than an entertaining read. The theme of the power of words is well-crafted, and it invites anyone to take a thoughtful look at their own use of language to hurt or heal. Some books try to beat you over the head with a message – this story takes you along for the ride but leaves you pondering it afterwards. It is not preachy, but it is a valuable part of the whole message.

 —

There was one very near miss that could easily make my list – Wonders Never Cease by Tim Downs. It is different from his usual style, but highly entertaining nonetheless.

Here’s to more great books in 2011!

Top Books of 2010

A new year already? Sheesh!

I haven’t been able to read as much this year. I hope it changes, but I still read some good books and want to feature the best I’ve read from 2010. The first link is to the book’s Amazon page, and the second link is to content here at Spoiled for the Ordinary (SftO).

5. The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead. The opening salvo in the 5 book Bright Empires series, Lawhead continues his skillful use of British legend for story fodder. StfO discusses it here.

4. Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. Good writing is good writing, whether a book is written primarily for a male or female audience. This book is considered “contemporary fiction” even though it may seem geared toward a female audience. Anyone who appreciates well-written fiction will enjoy this tale of a terminal woman making a way for her young daughter in the hometown she left behind years ago. I give it a manly thumbs up in this review.

3. Lost Mission by Athol Dickson. This book sparked a lot of discussion during the CSFF tour, and was one of the most provocative we’ve reviewed. The book started slow, but those with patience will find a rich tale of faith that wrestles with issues of immigration, legalism, license, and grace set in the Southwest in both the 1700’s and modern day in an intricately woven tapestry. There is much more in these posts.

2. Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand.  This book introduces us to Roland March, a Houston detective nearing burnout. In a gritty, true-to-life voice, Bertrand draws us in to the ups and downs of March’s last chance at getting back into homicide investigation. Noted in SftO posts here

1. Listen by Rene Gutteridge. She has hit the #1 spot in my list before with one of her comedic books. This time she brings a tale of suspense that deals with the power of words. Conversations in a small town start being posted on an anonymous website, causing a lot of strife when private words become public. This is what I wrote in my review this year:

However, the book is more than an entertaining read. The theme of the power of words is well-crafted, and it invites anyone to take a thoughtful look at their own use of language to hurt or heal. Some books try to beat you over the head with a message – this story takes you along for the ride but leaves you pondering it afterwards. It is not preachy, but it is a valuable part of the whole message.

 —

There was one very near miss that could easily make my list – Wonders Never Cease by Tim Downs. It is different from his usual style, but highly entertaining nonetheless.

Here’s to more great books in 2011!

Lessons Learned, Day 3

Well, 2010 is 8 days away from being in the history books. Quite an amazing year, went by amazingly fast!

I’ve been considering things I’ve learned in the last year. Lesson 1 and lesson 2 are already up. What is the 3rd lesson for the year?

Lesson #3: Love a lot.

A friend of mine recommended I check out “The Peasant Princess” podcast series by Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I’m not turning into a Reformed acolyte any time soon, but there were many good things in that series. I noticed he liked to talk about being a servant and being generous, and that sums up a heart of love. I have tried to show love to my wife more in the last few months, and I think it has made an impact in both our lives.

Once we get past our selfish nature, loving isn’t a hard thing to do. We can do a lot of little things to show love around. I was in a Christmas gift exchange game this week, where we traded around DVD’s. When it came to my turn, the movie I wanted was “locked” by being traded too many times, and there wasn’t really anything else interesting. One woman was stuck with a set of creepy movies, and was bummed about it, because no one would steal hers.

So I did.

She got to pick out another movie, and was happy to get a chick flick. I don’t want the creepy flicks, but it seemed simple to let her have another chance to find a good movie. She was really touched by it. Not a big deal to me, but it meant something to her.

It’s a good lesson for this time of year: show some more love, people! Find a way to serve someone, to be generous. You’ll get a reward just as good back, I bet.

Lessons Learned, Day 3

Well, 2010 is 8 days away from being in the history books. Quite an amazing year, went by amazingly fast!

I’ve been considering things I’ve learned in the last year. Lesson 1 and lesson 2 are already up. What is the 3rd lesson for the year?

Lesson #3: Love a lot.

A friend of mine recommended I check out “The Peasant Princess” podcast series by Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I’m not turning into a Reformed acolyte any time soon, but there were many good things in that series. I noticed he liked to talk about being a servant and being generous, and that sums up a heart of love. I have tried to show love to my wife more in the last few months, and I think it has made an impact in both our lives.

Once we get past our selfish nature, loving isn’t a hard thing to do. We can do a lot of little things to show love around. I was in a Christmas gift exchange game this week, where we traded around DVD’s. When it came to my turn, the movie I wanted was “locked” by being traded too many times, and there wasn’t really anything else interesting. One woman was stuck with a set of creepy movies, and was bummed about it, because no one would steal hers.

So I did.

She got to pick out another movie, and was happy to get a chick flick. I don’t want the creepy flicks, but it seemed simple to let her have another chance to find a good movie. She was really touched by it. Not a big deal to me, but it meant something to her.

It’s a good lesson for this time of year: show some more love, people! Find a way to serve someone, to be generous. You’ll get a reward just as good back, I bet.

Lessons Learned, Day 2

On Tuesday I posted the first of a series of “lessons learned” for 2010. At the end of the post I mentioned that there was a corollary lesson that came from the same event.

Lesson #2 – The Little Things Matter

The things we do day by day matter. Little things can be a blessing to others or come back to bite us. In my first post I talk about a situation that may be overblown, but people are judging harshly. The flip side is that, if the person I know did things a little bit differently, they may not be dragged into this mess at all.

We never know what effect our actions will have. I realized a long time ago that if I act rude to another driver, I could be seeing them the next day in my job, or run into them in a position of needing their help. How would that go over if I acted like a jerk?

When we talk about God as watching everything, that should motivate us to walk in integrity when alone as well as before the crowds. Sadly, it seems we still need motivation. It comes down to our selfishness, doesn’t it? We give in to acting without thinking, being petty, joining in with the gossip, the bashing people behind their backs.

Still, I have had experiences where someone commented on something I did that was positive, that touched them, and I don’t recall it being a big deal. Little things matter both ways – for good or ill.


Lord, this reminds me of the importance of walking in Your Spirit daily. If we keep Your word in our hearts, if we keep our ears attuned to the still, small voice, if we put first the the Kingdom of Heaven, what a difference it makes in our lives. It also spills out to the people around us. Help us to learn to live like this more each day!

Lessons Learned, Day 2

On Tuesday I posted the first of a series of “lessons learned” for 2010. At the end of the post I mentioned that there was a corollary lesson that came from the same event.

Lesson #2 – The Little Things Matter

The things we do day by day matter. Little things can be a blessing to others or come back to bite us. In my first post I talk about a situation that may be overblown, but people are judging harshly. The flip side is that, if the person I know did things a little bit differently, they may not be dragged into this mess at all.

We never know what effect our actions will have. I realized a long time ago that if I act rude to another driver, I could be seeing them the next day in my job, or run into them in a position of needing their help. How would that go over if I acted like a jerk?

When we talk about God as watching everything, that should motivate us to walk in integrity when alone as well as before the crowds. Sadly, it seems we still need motivation. It comes down to our selfishness, doesn’t it? We give in to acting without thinking, being petty, joining in with the gossip, the bashing people behind their backs.

Still, I have had experiences where someone commented on something I did that was positive, that touched them, and I don’t recall it being a big deal. Little things matter both ways – for good or ill.


Lord, this reminds me of the importance of walking in Your Spirit daily. If we keep Your word in our hearts, if we keep our ears attuned to the still, small voice, if we put first the the Kingdom of Heaven, what a difference it makes in our lives. It also spills out to the people around us. Help us to learn to live like this more each day!

Lessons Learned, Day 1

Last week was the first time I totally whiffed on a Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy blog tour, featuring The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers. I felt bad about it, but some things were going on that took away any spare attention I had (aside from work and family), and I hadn’t read the book. Anyway, I heard good things about it, and should perhaps check it out.

One thing that came out of the events of last week: I learned an important lesson, and it made me think about other lessons I’ve learned through the year. Sounds like fertile ground for a series of blog posts!

Lesson #1 – We are quick to judge

There is a local case of some young men being charged with some crimes. Normally, I would shake my head and condemn such hooligans, and move on with life. In this case, I knew one of the men well, and was sure that he wouldn’t be party to such things. Through the week news started to trickle out that brought a question to many of the charges, especially why the one young man was even included in this event.

The reaction from the community has been ugly. Most people are doing what *I* would have done, namely condemning the men and slandering them with nasty comments. The internet doesn’t help things, between people leaving comments on articles from local news sites to Facebook. On one news site I posted a comment regarding people being innocent until proven guilty. That…didn’t go over well. I reiterated the point, and another reader wrote, “your position is admirable but not practical in our society.”

Is that sad, or what?

In this instance, I believe I have inside information that makes me see the case opposite of many people. I have been disheartened by the responses, but I have to confess I would be making similar judgments if not for my familiarity with one of the accused and the case.

Certainly victims of crimes should be treated with respect and taken seriously. I worry though that our instant culture has produced instant judgment. The due process of our judicial system isn’t given a chance to work. No matter what comes out later on in this case, there will be a taint on these men.

It makes me realize that I should slow down, consider both sides, and realize a couple of things:
1. I don’t have all the information.

2. I am not the final arbiter. Ultimately God is. He knows the hearts of the accusers, the accused, and me as I judge them all.

There is a corollary to this lesson, and I’ll share that in the next blog post.


Lord, help me to judge not, lest I am judged. We are so quick with our opinion in this internet age, when it is easy to spread it out quickly and often without consequence as we hide behind “screen names.” Help me to see with Your perspective when I am presented with a judgment call, to know Your heart above all.

Lessons Learned, Day 1

Last week was the first time I totally whiffed on a Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy blog tour, featuring The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers. I felt bad about it, but some things were going on that took away any spare attention I had (aside from work and family), and I hadn’t read the book. Anyway, I heard good things about it, and should perhaps check it out.

One thing that came out of the events of last week: I learned an important lesson, and it made me think about other lessons I’ve learned through the year. Sounds like fertile ground for a series of blog posts!

Lesson #1 – We are quick to judge

There is a local case of some young men being charged with some crimes. Normally, I would shake my head and condemn such hooligans, and move on with life. In this case, I knew one of the men well, and was sure that he wouldn’t be party to such things. Through the week news started to trickle out that brought a question to many of the charges, especially why the one young man was even included in this event.

The reaction from the community has been ugly. Most people are doing what *I* would have done, namely condemning the men and slandering them with nasty comments. The internet doesn’t help things, between people leaving comments on articles from local news sites to Facebook. On one news site I posted a comment regarding people being innocent until proven guilty. That…didn’t go over well. I reiterated the point, and another reader wrote, “your position is admirable but not practical in our society.”

Is that sad, or what?

In this instance, I believe I have inside information that makes me see the case opposite of many people. I have been disheartened by the responses, but I have to confess I would be making similar judgments if not for my familiarity with one of the accused and the case.

Certainly victims of crimes should be treated with respect and taken seriously. I worry though that our instant culture has produced instant judgment. The due process of our judicial system isn’t given a chance to work. No matter what comes out later on in this case, there will be a taint on these men.

It makes me realize that I should slow down, consider both sides, and realize a couple of things:
1. I don’t have all the information.

2. I am not the final arbiter. Ultimately God is. He knows the hearts of the accusers, the accused, and me as I judge them all.

There is a corollary to this lesson, and I’ll share that in the next blog post.


Lord, help me to judge not, lest I am judged. We are so quick with our opinion in this internet age, when it is easy to spread it out quickly and often without consequence as we hide behind “screen names.” Help me to see with Your perspective when I am presented with a judgment call, to know Your heart above all.