I almost made it

Chasing Fireflies, A Novel of DIscovery by Charles Martin; 2007; $14.99; 340 pages; Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN; 978-1-59554-325-7; purchased from SmileAmazon.com; 9/5/18-9/8/18

Why did I read this?  Because Charles Martin is a gifted storyteller who moves me and makes me think.

One day a drunk woman kicks a ten year old boy out of a car before driving in front of a train killing herself.  He becomes a ward of the state and is taken into a foster home.  A reporter who grew in that same foster home is assigned to find out what is going on with the mute boy who is an awesome artist.  In cooperation with the agent assigned to the boy they begin to fill in his background.  At the same time the reporters cousin comes back from Hollywood and seek a change in her life.  There is another mystery from the past that also plays into the story.

Charles Martin has woven a wonderful parable of a Father’s love into a couple of mysteries that made me think about my own life and how it affects those around us.


What is with the title of the review?  This is the fifth book by Charles Martin that I have read and I made it 3/4 of the way through this one before I cried.  I have cried some in every book by Charles Martin that I have read.  I believe that each of his books is a parable and they make me about my own life.



Unoffendable, How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better by Brant Hansen; 2015; $15.99; 201 pages; W Publishing Company, Nashville, TN; 978-0-5291-2385-5; purchased to read with Fellowship Group from Shepherd’s Gate Church; 1/15/18-8/23/18

Why did I read this?  Our fellowship group at church is reading this together and discussing it.  We have been meeting and discussing two chapters twice a month.  We took the summer off and I decided to just finish it and I will go back and reread the chapters as they come up.

Brant Hansen posits that we have no right to get angry.  This is directed at those who say they follow Christ, but is a wise choice.  What if we didn’t get offended, what if we simply loved everyone.  Brant makes the argument much better that I can even begin to.  He also makes more sense than I just did.  This book holds the possibility of being life changing.

10/10, written in a witty conversational style that makes a great deal of sense.

fact is stranger than fiction

The Golden Spruce, A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed by John Vaillant; 2005; $16.95; 255 pages; W.W. Norton, New York, NY; 978-0393-32864-6; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Woodstock; 8/10/18-8/22/18

Why did I read this?  It was recommended by a friend of my sister in law, Dana Paperman, Angela Brown.

Grant Hadwin had worked for years in the logging industry in British Columbia.  He had a knack for knowing just where to put the roads that would allow the logging companies to maximize their ability to clear cut forests.

Growing on an isolated island was a Sitka Spruce that was unlike any other of the trees around it.  For some reason this spruce was golden, when all the trees around it were green.   This tree was storied and sacred to the indigenous people who inhabited the island.  The logging companies had set aside some forest land around the tree so that it would never be logged.

Grant Hadwin began to see the damage his roads were allowing to the forests and became an environmentalist.  He also suffered from paranoia and other mental illnesses.  After putting together supplies and under cover of night he cut the Golden Spruce so that it would topple in the wind.  He said he did these to draw attention to the clear cutting of so many forests.  He was supposedly unaware of the spiritual connection the tribe had to the tree.  He was due to appear in court to face charges in connection with the cutting of the tree, but he disappeared and hasn’t been seen since 1997.

10/10, John Vaillant does a great job of melding history, politics, logging and more.  Probably one of the best books I have read this year.

What is with the title of the review?  There is so much here that has to be factual because you could make it up and make it make sense.

A voice I can relate to

My Exaggerated Life by Pat Conroy as told to Katherine Clark; 2018; $29.99; 330 pages; The University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina; 978-1-6117-907-1; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 8/6/18-8/11/18

Why did I read this?  Because Pat Conroy will always be my favorite author and I wanted to hear a little less fictionalized of his life that he has exaggerated and added to in his novels.

Pat Conroy in a series of telephone conversations with the author explains his life.   There are many things I can relate to in his recollections, like moving so much, being the new kid, being subject to military regulations just because my parent was in the military and other things.  This is an engaging look at the life of one of the best writers of my lifetime.


What is with the title of the review?  There is so much of Pat Conroy’s life and experience that I can relate to, that he could be my voice on many things.


i want to be this kind of leader

A Higher Loyalty, Truth, Lies and Leadership by James Comey; 2018;$29.99; 290 pages; Flatiron Books, New York, NY; 978-1-250-19245-5; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Rockwood; 8/2/18-8/6/18

Why did I read this?  I heard him on NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and he seemed like a personable person with a sense of humor and a ethical style of leadership.

Comey had me in his authors’ note with this paragraph; I don’t love criticism, but I know I can be wrong, even when I am certain I am right. Listening to others who disagree with me and are willing to criticize me is essential to piercing the seduction of certainty.  Doubt, I’ve learned is wisdom.  And the older I get, the less I know for certain.  Those leaders who never think they are wrong, who never question their judgments or perspectives, are a danger to the organizations and people they lead.  In some cases, they are a danger to the nation and the world.”

He lays out his life and why he took certain steps in his life.  Some had to do with being at gunpoint in his own home at the age of sixteen.  Others had to with lessons he learned on how to be a boss from some people who leaders in places he worked early on.  His belief in right and wrong and how to best be a boss are what made him a good boss.  His belief that the law is right and that there are ethical and moral ways to do things brought him into conflict with those in office, in all three administrations that he served in.


What is with the title of the review?  After having read this I can appreciate Comeys’ style of leadership and would be willing to work under and to strive and be this kind of leader.


very evocative

A Simple Singing, The Sisters of Lancaster County, Book Two by Leslie Gould, 2018; $15.99; 359 pages; Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN; provided by the publisher in exchange for a review; 7/29/18-8/2/18

Why did I read this?  Because I think that Leslie is a great storyteller and I will read almost anything she writes.

Another fine time slip novel of two Amish families, one now and one during the civil war.  There are many parallels between the stories, unlikable characters and other characters who face moral, spiritual and ethical dilemmas.  There are a couple of very unlikable men in each time period, men who are tyrannical, overbearing and like to dominate the women in their lives.  One of the Amish leaders admonishes the main character that their traditions are what is most important not what the scriptures says.  The Civil War portion of the story is very evocative and well written and reminded me of James McPherson’s Hallowed Ground:A Walk at Gettysburg.  I was really impressed with the story and am looking forward to the third book in the series.


What is with the title of the review?  The scenes set in the Civil War are very evocative and well written and took me to the time and place.


Why so Serious?

The Humor of Christ by Elton Trueblood; 1964; 125 pages; Harper & Row Publishers, New York, NY; checked out from Mesa Community College, Mesa, AZ through the Interlibrary Loan Program; 7/25/19-7/29/18

Why did I read this?  Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, mentions it in the book and I decided I wanted to read it.

We have taken the Bible which has many joyous and humorous passages and made it into a somber and dry recitation of what happened in the past.  We have come to revere the Bible so much that we often seem to miss many of the sutilities that are in the Word.  Trueblood points out that some of the parables and some of Jesus interactions with others are humorous when viewed through the lens of the time they happened.

8/10, because of the heavily academic nature of the narrative.

What is with the title of the review?  Some time we attach too much gravity and not enough jocularity to the ancient manuscripts that make up the Word of God.


Rural Virginia

Divine Justice by David Baldacci; 2008; $9.99; 523 pages; Vision, New York, NY; 978-0-446-54488-7; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 7/24/18-7/25/18

Why did I read this?  Because I really like David Baldacci as a storyteller and am working my way through his series.

A member of the Camel Club kills a couple of people, (who strongly deserved it) and then goes underground.  A member of some alphabet governmental is given the job of hunting him down.  A chance encounter between strangers on a train take him to a rural mining town that is ground zero for the opioid epidemic.  As he is being tracked the hunter begins to suspect there might be more to the story than he has been led to believe.  As the hunt progresses the other members of the Camel Club begin to involve themselves.  Each of their various talents come into play and make for an exciting story.


What is with the title of the review?  The story ranges up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States, but most of it takes places in an extremely rural and poor portion of Virginia coal country.

2 stories in 1

Another Man’s Moccasins by Craig Johnson; 2008; $16.00; 290 pages; Penguin, New York, NY; 978-0-14-311552-6; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Belmont; 7/23/18-7/24/18

Why did I read this?  I have read the previous books in the series and have really liked them.

Longmire has brought his daughter Cady back from Philadelphia to work on her rehabilitation after she was brutally attacked.  A body of a Vietnamese woman is found alongside the highway.  In her purse is a picture of Longmire during his time in Vietnam during the American War. As Longmire investigates the homicide it reminds him of his time as a Marine Investigator during the end of the war.  He and his regular cast of characters find the answers they were looking for.

What is with the title of the review?  We get the story of a current homicide investigation in Wyoming and a drug smuggling ring in Vietnam during the closing days of the war in 1975.



new family members

The Hit by David Baldacci; 2013; $27.99; 392 pages; Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY; 978-1-4555-2121-0; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Kenton; 7/21/18-7/23/18

Why did I read this? I read the first book in the series and really liked the characters that David Baldacci has created.

Someone is taking about members of the agency that Will Robie works for.  They are taking out people at the top and the bottom of the agency.  Will is tasked with tracking down the killer, whom is another assassin from the agency.  As will tracks down the assassin, he begins to realize that things aren’t as they should be.  He ends up teaming with the assassin to straighten things out after the head of the agency and all the way up to the head of the United States government.  Several of the characters from The Innocent also appear in this story.

What is with the title of the review?  There are several new characters introduced in the story and I have a feeling they will return in future stories.


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