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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review: Counting Candles by Dustin W. Bradshaw

Counting Candles: the extraordinary impact of one ordinary life by Dustin W. Bradshaw, AF, 2014, Softcover, 231p, My Rating=5
Source: provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

James leaned slightly against the double door to steady himself. Troy really was a success. He was everything that James wasn’t. Everything that James wished he could be. “What’s wrong with me?” he asked.
James Smith is an ordinary man, with an ordinary name, leading a very ordinary life.
Little does he know his seemingly insignificant acts of kindness—from saying hello to the doorman every day to leaving a generous tip for a waitress—make a difference. All James can see is others’ successes compared to his failings as a husband, father, and friend. So when his wife decides to throw him a birthday party, James has no idea that one special gift is going to change his perspective—and his life.
Counting Candles invites us all to take a step back and gain a unique perspective on the value of our lives.

I absolutely love the plot of this novel.  It's my kind of book, one that hints a tug at the heartstrings of humanity and sure enough it did.  How could it not?  I certainly felt just as run-of-the-mill as James did that it ached me to read his thoughts.  They were my thoughts as well!  But as I continued to read, I found comfort that there was something amazing that would happen to his seemingly ordinary life and so perhaps my mundane can turn out that way too.  And so that is the appeal of this book; you and me can be remarkable!  Our humdrum kindness is someone's rescue.

James's outlook on turning forty years old was one of not being as accomplished as his good friend Troy but James forgot that genuine kindness goes a long way.  It was natural for James to call on Troy's misguided ways, to take time to chit chat with the doorman, to sense a troubled waitress or sister, to uplift a boy, to hand his ornery elderly neighbor his newspaper every morning, to find solution to save others from being laid off, or to show chivalry.  James didn't realize that his compassionate nature made an impact on people.  His gentle gestures moved mountains.  What an awesome message I got from this book!

The way this story was told, there was no surprise to the reader of what was coming to James.  I was getting the behind the scene first hand look from the people that James touched and it was truly heartwarming to read the influence that he made on their lives.  This added depth to the story and made for easy turning of the pages.  By book's end, my heart was full.

About the Author

Being raised in a small farming community, Dustin Bradshaw thrives on adventure and challenge. He lives by the theme, “If you want to accomplish something, do it!” It was with this attitude that he penned his first book in third grade and, as a senior in high school, entered and won a literary scholarship that he was told no male has ever won. This same adventurous nature has helped Bradshaw achieve many of his life’s goals, including forming that country boy into a accomplished leader. He is now a Foreign Service Officer for the United States Department of State. He and his wife, Lady Hiva, are now posted in Manila, Philippines and will soon be posted to Istanbul, Turkey.

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