The Spartan Way

The Spartan WayAuthor: Joe De Sena

Publisher: St. Martins Griffin

Release Date: September 4, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Spartan Up! Aroo!

Several people have heard about Spartan races, but what does it really mean to have a Spartan mentality? How do people continually train for these brutal obstacle course races year after year and continue coming back for more?  Joe De Sena, founder of the Spartan Race, breaks down the ten common principles found in the attitudes of true Spartan racers.  Each principle reflects a method to not only conquer obstacles in a race, but how to also conquer obstacles in your life.  These include prioritizing your life, making commitments, drive, and passion are just a few that are included.

Even though this book does have lots of stories about amazing Spartan racers, it is also geared more toward a book to help you succeed. These are the same principles that are found in many of today’s bestselling business books, just presented in a different format.  I was really hoping for more about the races themselves, but De Sena really parallels how these principles can fit into your life.  One of the best aspects of the book is about getting healthy and fit.  De Sena’s missing is to get people off the couch and into the world.  Find an experience and go out and do it, don’t leave yourself wanting.

There is some harsh language throughout the book, but it is fitting with the subject matter at hand. I recommend this book to people who are interested in obstacle course racing as well as need a boost in their life.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Spirit of the Trail

SOTTAuthor: Carrie Morgridge

Publisher: MFF Publishing

Release Date: May 3, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer; Jessica Higgins

Just when you think you are about to start an epic journey, you realize “epic” means different things to different people.

Spirit of the Trail follows John and Carrie Morgridge’s adventure along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Ride (GDMBR).  The book kicks off with the idea that leads to a decision to do this grueling 2,700 mile ride from Canada into New Mexico. From there Carrie narrates their crazy decision with preparation, training, and traveling up to Canada.  Once there, they realize that this is the last chance to turn back, but they press on.  She then chronicles each day of the bike ride.  She reflects on the hardships, successes, and natural beauty around them as they ride.  She shows how this ride is changing her life and makes her more adventurous.  She then challenges each reader to pick an adventure and just do it.

This was a fun and inspirational read. I love getting to read about real life adventures the make me want to run out the door and get started.  We are an active family and it sounds like this might be something we would possible do one day.  I like that they decided to do the trail on their own terms rather than with a tour group.  I feel like  you would get more out of it that way.  If you are looking for inspiration this year, get started on this book right away.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

A Mother’s Book of Blessings

Mothers book of blessingAuthor: Natasha Tabori Fried and Lena Tabori

Publisher: National Geographic

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A delightful, inspiring compilation for all mothers to read and remember the joys of motherhood even through the trying times.

A Mother’s Book of Blessings is a fun and delightful gathering of stories, poems, psalms, and quote’s about what it means to be a mother.  With each writing comes a beautiful piece of art to illustrate the journey as well.  There are classics that we have all heard as well as new bits of wisdom sprinkled throughout.  The topics covered throughout include, Mealtimes, Bedtimes, Holidays, Birthdays, New Moms, Weddings, Gratitude and so much more that will celebrate the moments big and small throughout a mother’s life.

These books are always enjoyable to look back at after becoming a mom. So many times we get wrapped up in the busyness of our day-to-day activities that we forget to enjoy the little moments that mean so very much.  Several of the quote’s I had heard and read before but a few were new and very inspiring.  The art was very generic and leaves a lot to be desired as far as diversity goes.  While the art is not very diverse, the writings are from a nice mixture of sources including Christian writings, Native American, Jewish, Muslim, Irish and even good old Dr. Seuss.  This is a great gift for a new mother or even for grandmothers who will enjoy sitting and reminiscing about all the good times they have had with their loved ones.  Book collectors will also enjoy adding this to their collection for the quotes and pictures throughout.  With the broad range of topics covered, there is something inside for everyone to enjoy and be able to take away a little nugget of wisdom to help brighten their day.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Fiercehearted

FierceheartedAuthor: Holley Gerth

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

What I wouldn’t give to be Fierce Hearted at all times. The advice Holley gives throughout the book is important for every woman to hear to help them thrive.

In her latest book, Holley Gerth gives her readers the best advice possible to become the strongest, fiercest woman they can be. We all have the ability to be fierce hearted deep inside of us if we are only able to reach down and find it. Throughout the pages, Holley will help readers discover the freedom they never knew existed. To keep the pace, the book is layered throughout with personal stories to give the reader a sense of belonging in the story. With everyday real issues at the center of every chapter, it shows we are all the same even with our differences and that is what makes us fierce.

While a few sections of the book took longer for me to get through than the rest, I still feel there is a very good message throughout that all women need to remember. We have the ability to be stronger than we realize if we will rely on God to show us that strength and let it shine through.  It can be hard to let that strength show when we feel beaten down and discouraged.  But we never have to do it alone, God places people in our lives at just the right times to help bring that strength and Fierce Heartedness out of us, even when we didn’t know we had it inside in the first place.  If we can learn to be obedient and follow that little voice inside of us, it will lead us further than we ever thought possible.  I do believe the book could have been condensed a fraction in order to not lose the readers interest at times, but overall it is a great message that needs to be read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Under a Cloudless Sky

Under a Cloudless SkyAuthor: Chris Fabry

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: January 9, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A remarkable story bringing past and present events that collide that can only be reconciled with forgiveness.

In 1933, the mining town of Beulah Mountain, West Virginia has it shares of ups and downs. The mine owners have the ups and the workers have the downs.  But not all owners are unfair.  Jacob Handley agreed to be a financial backer of the mine if he could put measures in place that would make it more fair for the workers, including housing, food and supplies from a company store, etc.  However, other members felt that increasing the bottom line was the primary goal by whatever means necessary.  Even so, a friendship between Handley’s daughter, Ruby, and one of the mine workers daughters named Bean struck up and became inseparable.  Through Bean’s mama and their church, Ruby became saved and was baptized.  They were inseparable, until an unfortunate series of events set a massacre in place that would change their lives forever.

Several decades later in 2004, Hollis Beasley is trying to prevent the land in Beulah Mountain from being bought out by Coalman Coal and Energy. Unfortunately, the company has deep pockets with roots in the tax appraisal office that is making it impossible for the land owners to pay taxes on their land, forcing many to sell.  Ruby Handley Freedman now lives in Kentucky and is fighting her children to keep her independence.  Having not been back to Beulah Mountain since the massacre, the town has changed and the historical society has refurbished her old childhood home above the company store as a museum.  Feeling the need to return for forgiveness as well as to prove to her children that she can still take care of herself, Ruby takes off with no notice to head to Beulah Mountain.  This decisions starts a series of events that will change everyone’s lives in Beulah Mountain just as the day she left.

I have never been disappointed in a book by Chris Fabry, so it comes as no surprise that I quickly devoured this one as well. With a resounding theme of forgiveness throughout the book, Fabry weaves a tragic story planted with a seed of hope.  I was so caught up in both stories that I couldn’t pick which one I wanted to follow more.  Fabry also did a great job taking me back to 2004 with the reference to Switchfoot as well as a few other tidbits such as internet browsers of the past.  You don’t realize how much your forget until you’re confronted with it again.  And yes, Meant to Live is still playing in my head now much like it did then.

Ruby’s story was humorous, suspenseful, and downright terrifying at times. To hear about the poor treatment of people at any time in history (or present) is never an enjoyable experience.  However, we must learn what happened or we are doomed to repeat it.  I also liked that he showed how people prefer to sugarcoat the bad and focus on the good.  By understanding this, we can look past the surface and see the hurt that people are facing.

I always enjoy books that allow me to have a bit of a prediction and this one was no exception. I’m happy to say that my prediction of the story came true.  However, there was a twist that also happened as part of the prediction, which made it even better.  Be sure to pick up a copy of this great new book for 2018.  You’ll be glad you did.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Writing Desk

The Writing DeskAuthor: Rachel Hauck

Publisher: Zondervan

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A romance that spans the ages, and continents, to bring people together even in the hardest of times.

After her first book became a runaway success, Tenley Roth feels the pressure to bring another hit. However, due to the pressure, she is unable to get any words on the page.  During this time, her estranged mother calls asking for Tenley to help her through chemotherapy in Florida.  Shortly after arriving, she ends up meeting a furniture designer that shows her what real romance is about.  Tenley finds an old desk at her mother’s house that she uses to try and kick-start her new book.  The desk has history to it that ties everything together between the families and past writing.

Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of old money who wants to be her own person and not have her parents make her every decision, especially about who she will marry. Birdie wants to write novels and get her stories out in the world, a difficult feat for an unknown woman in this time.  Her mother is working behind her to get her future set the way she believes it should be, which is not want Birdie wants.  Tied together through time and circumstances, Birdie and Tenley find that even though their circumstances are not what they want, they can make the best of it if they follow their hearts.

This is one of those books that at first I thought I was going to give up on, the back and forth between the timelines and characters was a little confusing and took me out of the story. However, by the end of the book, it worked together so well.  The decisions made by each character and how it brought about the actions and reactions of those around them was done incredibly well.  Rachel Hauck did a fantastic job bringing about the sympathy for Tenley and the hard times she went through with the decisions she made and the consequences she had to face.  The relationship between Jonas and Tenley was a nice slow build up instead of an instant attraction that exploded into a full-blown romance that took over the whole story.  Even though this is an inspirational novel, it never gets preachy in any way that would be a turn off to some.  One of the nicest aspects is this is a story of forgiveness and redemption and how it can soothe the soul.  This book will be great for those that love romance and a story of hope and moving on to make the best of a situation.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Loveable

LoveableAuthor: Kelly Flanagan

Publisher: Zondervan

Release Date: March 21, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The kind of book we all need to read to remember that we are worthy of love and can do all the things we want if we don’t give into fear, shame, and self-doubt.

In a world where our self-worth is based on how many likes we get or how many friends we have, it is nice to take a step back and remember that life is about more than that. Dr. Flanagan is a clinical psychologist and father that became famous for the letters he writes to his children.  He posted these letters on his blog which went viral and brought about an appearance on The Today Show.  Flanagan shares that we are all here for a reason and if we will learn to trust our self-worth and let others love us, we can find that purpose.

Loveable is the kind of book that will awaken something deep within us all that has easily been forgotten. With social media so popular and the basis for how we judge our self-worth, it is easy to forget that life is about so much more than that.  The human interaction we crave is so important.  Being with people and letting them actually be with us, on a deeper level, is so important.  We need to be more like an onion, peel back our layers of protection and expose our vulnerable selves.  It may hurt, but in the end, we will all be better for it.  I enjoyed what he had to say towards the end, take a breath and just go for it.  Whatever it is that might be holding you back, just go for it and be better because of it.  You don’t want to wake up on your last day and regret the things that were so deep inside of you that you were afraid to even try.  You might fail, in fact most of us will fail more than once, but that’s ok.  Take the good with the bad and make it all better.  Offer the love and respect that you so crave to everyone else and watch it eventually make its way back around.  Be the change you want to see and show the love you want to receive. That’s what life is all about.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.