The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: December, 2017

Review: “Chasing Phil”

This is a review of the true crime book Chasing Phil by David Howard.

David Howard is a journalist whose work you may have encountered without realizing it. But whether or not you knew his name when you read his pieces, you no doubt enjoyed them for his effortless, conversational style and way of presenting his topics and subjects. If you happen to be familiar with his work (like his previous book, Lost Relic), you know what to expect and will be happy with Chasing Phil. If you are unfamiliar with Howard’s work, Chasing Phil is an enjoyable read and a good good introduction to the author.

Chasing Phil is part true-crime narrativepart expose on big-bank con jobs, and part history profile on the early days of undercover operations in the FBI. Chasing Phil presents in narrative format J.J. Wedick and Jack Brennan’s pursuit and apprehension of big time con man Phil Kutzer, and how his capture lead to even more success for the two men. As Brennan and Wedick pursue Kutzer and figure out how to hook him, Howard traces out how the men almost seem to develop an interpersonal connection that makes it almost feel more like they are trying to chase a frienemy (friend+enemy) than catching a major criminal. The story on its own is interesting, but Howard’s writing style, which mixes subtle humor and accurate descriptive detail, captures the reader and keeps him moving along through this book. Howard does a good job of bringing out the nuance of the events in the book.

Chasing Phil is a good read for a cold winter afternoon with no place to go. Kick back and enjoy it for the crime story and the history it provides.

I received my copy of this book for free through Blogging for Books in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to publish a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.


Today it begins.

My daughter turns two years old next month. This is her second Christmas. But today feels like the magic of Christmas with Kizzy has really begun.

Last year, she was eleven months. She was present and cute. But she really didn’t do much of anything. There wasn’t the excitement of the decorated tree. There was no magic of opening presents.

This year is different.

She was excited to tear up wrapping paper. She has run around, jingling a bell, and talking with our two dogs. It only gets better from here.

Merry Christmas.


Review: “Bearded Gospel Men: The Epic Quest for Godliness and Manliness”

This is a review of  Bearded Gospel Men by Jared Brock and Aaron Alford.

It seems that the world is in a renaissance of a manliness; everywhere one turns, it is bearded this and warrior that. It was only a matter of time until someone published a devotional book like Bearded Gospel Men: The Epic Quest for Godliness and Manliness. When I first picked up the book, the beard memes made me giggle, but the internal cynic had me doubting whether something like this could have any actual substance to it. I am happy to report that my initial inklings were wrong.

This book is a collection of 31 short biographies of various men (and one woman) of the Christian faith. Some of them date way back to the actual time of Jesus, while others have lived more contemporary. Each chapter contains a Bible verse, a quote (usually) from the featured person of the chapter, a short biography, reflection questions, a prayer, and then something humorous and beardly. The subjects are vast, and even those I thought I knew well the authors included some info about that I was unaware of.

This book is meant to be taken at a chapter a day, and each chapter takes 10 minutes maximum to read. As a Christian, and man with a beard, I endorse this book.

I received my copy of this book for free in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

A book that hit me in the feels; or, a review of “Same Kind of Different As Me”

This is a review of the book Same Kind of Different As Me by Denver Moore and Ron Hall.

I just finished reading Same Kind of Different As Me by Denver Moore and Ron Hall, and the only thing I can say is, “Wow.” The husband in me cried, the Pentecostal in me said, “Amen,” and the man in me felt hopeful for tomorrow after reading this book -not even exaggerating here.

This review is going to be a challenge, because much of what I would like to write about this book would be considered a “spoiler,” something which I had known early on would have actually made me decide not to want to read this book. So let’s try this: Same Kind of Different As Me is the story of a homeless black guy named Denver, and a wealthy Texas couple named Ron and Debbie Hall, and how they each make a difference in their community. Along the way is a story salvation and redemption, loss and heartbreak, and love and forgiveness. Unexpected “plot” twists leave the reader wanting to keep going, wondering what happens next.

I recommend the movie edition of this book, as the extra material at the end provides additional clarity and helps the reader to see from a different perspective how a story never ends, it just adds new characters.

Same Kind of Different As Me is a perfect holiday memoir. Miraculous twists and turns culminate in an ending that isn’t neat, but leaves the reader changed for the better. Read this book.

I received my copy of this book for free in exchange for reviewing it; I was not obligated to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are mine.