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.

The Way of Letting Go

Letting goAuthor: Wilma Derksen

Publisher: Zondervan

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

After a life changing event, how do you learn to move on and forgive? This is one of the hardest things there is to do.

No matter the topic, being hurt by a friend or family member or losing a loved one, learning to let go of that pain is a very difficult thing to do. Wilma Derksen gives us 15 misconceptions to look at about grief and how it led her back to hope. Wilma’s world falls apart when her teenage daughter doesn’t come home from school one day.  Seven weeks later her body is found.  It isn’t until decades later that an arrest is made in the murder.  Wilma shares how she let her choice to forgive and let go of the heartbreak to be able to move on with her life.  She encourages trying to find a happy ending through the heartbreak and listening to her advice will hopefully help some break free of the pain they are holding on to.

Reading through this book and sharing the heartbreak Wilma had to go through was very difficult. Being a mother, it is very hard to hear or even think of having to experience this kind of heartache.  My kids are my world and I can’t imagine anything like this happening to them.  I would like to say I would be able to forgive, but it would be incredible difficult.  I loved everything she said about having to forgive and let go of the pain.  If we hold on to that pain, we are never going to be able to move on with our lives and live them the way God intends us to.  There were so many helpful scriptures and bible passages to look at for references to help through the dark times.  It doesn’t have to be someone who has experienced the murder of a child that will benefit from the words here. Every day we all face something that we should let go of to be our happiest; it might be something as simple as a hurt feeling from a friend or loved one, or it could go much deeper and be much harder.  No matter the circumstance we face, we all need to be able to try and be the best person we can be, and that won’t happen if we can’t let go of the negative things we are holding on to.

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

Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story

HeavenAuthor: Steven Curtis Chapman

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 7, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An in-depth look at one of Christian music’s most popular artist that will pull at the heart-strings of every reader.

Steven Curtis Chapman has been one of the most popular artist in the Christian music world for decades. His life has been shaped by tragedy, heartache, and blessings.  In Between Heaven and the Real World, Chapman shares these events with readers in an exclusive look at his childhood through his upbringing to meeting his wife and the family they have built together.  His story is one that some of his fans may be aware of, but many aspects of his life that he shares in the book will be new to even his most devoted fans making this book worth reading.

I have been a fan of Christian music for about fifteen years and Steven Curtis Chapman is a name I have heard frequently over the years. Most of his story is new to me and it is a very important story for fans to read.  His openness to share even the hardest parts of his life is refreshing.  He didn’t try to sugar coat even the toughest parts of his life, and there were some very difficult tragedies he has experienced.  Reading about the death of his daughter, especially the way it happened, brought me to tears.  I had a hard time getting through that part, but I’m glad I did.  The way the family overcame that tragedy showed their faith and the way worked through things was nice to see, even more so when it is said that 95% of families that experience a death of a child don’t stay together.  The whole family dealt with the tragedy in different ways, but were still able to find comfort in each other.  One of the nicest things was how real and refreshing the story was.  I didn’t want to pick this up and not feel it was authentic, (especially since it was written with someone).  Fans of Steven Curtis Chapman have nothing to worry about, he shines through on every page from learning about the behind the scenes aspects of some of his greatest songs to the struggles his marriage has faced.  It was a joy to read this and it makes me look forward to hearing songs by him on the radio even more.  I recommend this book to fans of Chapman’s music and also those that might be struggling in their faith that could gain something from the stories in this book.

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

Let’s Be Real

Lets be realAuthor: Natasha Bure

Publisher: Zondervan

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In today’s world it is hard for teens to find someone that is actually worth looking up to. Natasha Bure shows it is ok to be ok with yourself and gives teen girls someone they can have as a role model that their parents will approve of.

Natasha Bure, the daughter of Candace Cameron Bure, brings young girls a book they can look to that will help answer and deal with many of the problems they face growing up. Natasha has been on The Voice, and has her own YouTube channel with videos that show the real person she is without holding back.  Throughout the book there are chapters on, friendships, faith, health, beauty and so much more we all deal with growing up. Let’s Be Real is the kind of guide teen girls can use and parents can be happy giving it to them to use as a tool.

I wanted to review this book, not because I know anything about Natasha, but because I have followed her mother for quite some time and wanted to see what her daughter had to say. They are a faith filled family and in today’s society that isn’t always looked upon with favor.  I liked the way Natasha gave real examples of problems she had faced and how she handled those problems, even if it wasn’t handled in the correct way, she showed how she learned from it all.  There are life lessons in every chapter and something for everyone to take away.  I think this will be a great edition for teen girls to read and use to help guide them through many of the problems they will face growing up.  We all face problems and the way that she handles her problems might not be right for you but it will give an example to hopefully help lead in the right direction.  There is no one right answer but these examples will be great for everyone to use to think about what is happening in their life and hopefully give them encouragement along the way.  I recommend this for teen girls, even if they are not experiencing problems, they will be at some time and can be ready with the resources to help.

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

Would you like to know?

would-you-like-to-knowAuthor: Tim Dowley

Illustrator: Eira Reeves

Publisher: Candle Books

Release Date: August 19, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A way to open the door to questions about Christianity with your child.

Ever wonder how to start the conversation with your young child about who is God or Jesus? What about the true story of Easter?  Or how to pray? This set of short books gives you the opportunity to do just that.  Easy to read with pictures on each page give young kids a chance to easily read along and ask questions.  I would say that this set of books would be great for kids that are aged 3 to 6.  They are short and easy to follow along with, but kids that are able to read will easily be able to read them on their own.  The stories are able to lead the children to understand and ask questions.  This would be a good set to have around your house or church library.

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

Courage to Soar

 

courage-to-soarAuthor: Simone Biles

Publisher: Zondervan

Release Date: November 15, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An Olympic Gold medalist shows how she came to be one of the top athletes in the world.

Many Olympic athletes know from a very early age that they want to go for the gold. Simone Biles start in the world of gymnastics came about in a rather unconventional way.

She was born in Ohio but had a rocky start. Her mom wasn’t able to take care of her and her siblings.  She and her younger sister were eventually adopted by her grandparents, who she considers mom and dad.  One day, her daycare took a field trip to a local gym.  It was quickly obvious to all those at the gym that she had God-given talent and passion for the sport of gymnastics.  Through years of hard work, her family was her rock keeping her focused and positive and also helping her to enjoy the thing she loved most.  Along the way there were some highs and lows and through it all Simone continued to look to God for guidance and rely on her family as she learned some of the hardest lessons in life.

It is nice to read a story of someone so accomplished and see how they have stayed grounded as well as understand the difficulties they have faced. When you look at many of these Olympic athletes that are still so young, it can make any ordinary person feel that their accomplishments might not amount to much.  We all have to remember that just because we don’t have gold medals, the things we do in life are important nonetheless.  Simone Biles shows that she is normal in many ways.  Throughout her years of training she had her bad mood moments and even went through a bratty phase.  There were times she didn’t perform as well as she would have liked, but she never let it keep her down.  During those moments, she found the courage to get up and try again.  She attributes a lot of her success to her family and coaches that continued to push her to always reach her full potential.

I enjoyed the way the book was written giving a real glimpse inside her life and the bad moments.  She didn’t just gloss over the negative aspects of life and focus on the good.  This book goes under the category of inspiration and it lives up to that.  There is a lot of inspiration that can be taken away from the stories here.  I love that she talks about only being four foot eight inches tall and that’s ok.  I’m short and sometimes it can make you feel invisible, not something that can be said about Simone Biles.  She is a good role model for young girls to look up to.

Overall this was a very enjoyable read and I would recommend to fans of Biles along with those that enjoy a good inspirational read. There were a few typos that I feel could have been taken care of with an extra read through but still a great book.

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

 

Troubleshooting Your Novel

troubleshooting-your-novelAuthor: Steven James

Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A guide in the art of writing that tackles all the topics a writer needs to keep in mind when crafting a novel.

If you’ve completed your first draft of your novel, or just starting it, this is your next step. Steven James is a master storyteller and uses this book to show many of the steps aspiring authors need to be aware of in order to bring their novel to the next level.  This is a checklist that every author, new and experienced, should keep on hand and refer to often.  Going through this book, I noticed several things I needed to go back to my own manuscript and fix, even after having heard him speak on these points more than once.  So many authors will put a book together and try to get it published without going over many of these points to make their book the very best it can be.

The chapters are short, around four pages each, but still provide enough information to fix many of the problems we see in novels out today. It might seem a little surprising when opening the book and seeing over seventy chapters and points he addresses; however, they are all important.  Some could be grouped together but are valid on their own as well.  For me, one of the best aspects of this book is looking at it and knowing that it is written by someone who knows how to write the kind of books I want to read.  I have read everything Steven James has written and can’t wait to read anything he writes next.  I don’t want to read a book on writing by someone who doesn’t write novels and only writes about writing.  I don’t want another useless reference book, luckily this is not one of those.  So much practical advice that can really be used to make you a better writer.