Sustainable Travel

Author: Holly Tuppen

Publisher: White Lion Publishing

Release Date: June 22, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Good guide for explaining the benefits of sustainable travel.

Are you a traveler? Have you ever thought about the impact that travel and tourism have on the world?  Many people either don’t think about it or don’t fully understand what that impact is.  Holly Tuppen has written a great book to help guide travelers through common issues that occur to our planet and how to help sustainably.  This book outlines how to travel better, whether the method or location.  There is also a good section explaining carbon emissions and your own travel carbon footprint and how you can reduce it.  Possibly the best part is when she gives ideas to some of the best locations that travels can visit responsibly and sustainably. 

I recommend this book to people interested in sustainability and travelers in general.

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

A Crocus in the Desert

Author: Nancy Canestrari Williams

Publisher: Lightbourne Creative

Release Date: May 29, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fantastic resource for women dealing with fertility issues and need help with their faith through a difficult journey.

If you are one of the more than ten percent of couples that struggles with infertility, you are not alone. Many people think they are alone and have no one to talk to when it comes to the issues of miscarriage, childlessness, adoption and infertility. So many try to shoulder the burden of it by themselves when there are resources like this book available to help them out. This book offers not only devotions but prayers and real-life stories for readers to latch onto and use to help keep them afloat in their times of desperation. Most women have a strong desire to be a mother, from playing with dolls and stuffed animals to babysitting later in life, the maternal instinct is real and something that is hard to ignore. Even when we might not understand it, we must be willing to listen to and follow God’s plan for our lives so we can see the beauty in what He has in store for us.

Nancy Williams does a fabulous job of weaving the devotions, prayers and stories together to give readers a sense of hope, purpose and belonging when they can feel utterly alone in their desperation to have children. For me, I used this book as encouragement and a way to help others who might be going through this difficult journey in life. Such a beautiful way to help those around when it can seem that nothing will help. I recommend this book to those struggling with the issue of fertility or as a gift to someone in the family who might be struggling with the issue and in need of encouragement.

Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over

Authors: Monica Schmelter, Rhonda Rhea, Kaley Rhea

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: February 2, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fun, engaging book that kept me laughing and smiling with the turn of every page and an uplifted spirit.

Do you ever feel weighed down with extra baggage, both spiritually and physically? Whether you carry a backpack, purse, fanny pack or small clutch, we all have something that holds the things we need as we go throughout the day. Some of us have everything plus the kitchen sink while others get by with the bare minimum. What we carry with us can say a lot about us and what is going on in our lives and what we value. I make sure anywhere I go I have a book in my bag, you never know when a line might be long or stuck in traffic that could allow you to get a few pages in. We also have the baggage the world can put on us, feelings of failure and a lack of peace. Each of us need to find a way to let go of the things that won’t bring us anything good and fight for what matters to keep in our bags. When we have what we need in our bags, our purse will runneth over and we will feel full inside and out!

I’ve read Rhonda and Kaley Rhea several times before and knew that anything they teamed together to write would be on my shelf. Now, with the addition of Monica Schmelter, there was so much more to love and laugh about within the pages of the book. I love when you get a group of writers that can craft a story in a way that makes you laugh but also leaves an impression with you of what they are trying to teach you. Each chapter gives a lesson with humor, one of the best nonfiction tools for me. A lot of times nonfiction is very hard for me to get through, just doesn’t hold my attention, but with these books it is easy to let the pages fly and enjoy the lessons within. I recommend this book for all those struggling with what is right and best to keep in their “bag.” No matter how big or small the bag we carry may be, we all need the right tools to help us through the crazy times we are living in.

This is such a fun book that I believe many readers will enjoy it. Find it on Amazon!

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

We Keep Us Safe

Author: Zach Norris

Publisher: Beacon Press

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book lives up to the hype it promotes. A worthy read to understand the failure of the current system.

Zach Norris weaves historical personal accounts blended with knowledge of the inner workings of the current public safety and justice system to show documented failures.  However, he also provides a blueprint for a new system based on accountability rather than of fear.  The current system that we use continues to divide people into an us versus them mentality, keeping those in power based on fear of the unknown or untrue. 

This book really challenged me to look at things through a different lens and in a different context.  Norris provides a plethora of information of how we got to where we are as a society and why several politicians can harness voters’ fears to get elected.  One of the buzz phrases that we hear all the time is Building Community, but how are we really doing that?  We need to refocus our system on being accountable rather than just removing people from society for a period of time, which doesn’t solve the problem in the long run.  Outside of crime, several examples are provided of equality between everyone and ideas of how to actually find real solutions and not just band-aid gimmicks.  This book has the potential to open readers eyes and start moving in a direction of healing.

The Mutant Project

Author: Eben Kirksey

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: November 10, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Interesting history on gene mutation and what the path forward looks like for the future.

In November 2018, Dr. He Jiankui shocked the world when he announced the first genetically edited babies, twins to be exact.  He further shocked everyone when he announced there was another pregnancy.  With great power comes great responsibility and the discussion has shifted from when will it happen to how do we oversee the morality of this ability.  China has long dominated genetic research by recruiting top talent to the country to make breakthroughs before other countries.  But when it becomes available wide stream, who will decide who gets access?  These are just some of the questions that plague the future of this field.

Eben Kirksey takes readers on a bumpy ride as he kicks off his book with the unveiling of the genetically modified twins, Lulu and Nana.  However, this probably did not occur the way that readers think.  It was planned to be documented in a research journal, but another researcher got wind of it and leaked it out, which caused prerecorded YouTube videos to be released to the public, therefore causing all kids of chaos at this genetic convention.  It’s a mess to be sure.

I really enjoyed the history portion of this book and how we got to where we are today.  Kirksey did a great job explaining why China is further along in this field than the United States.  I also enjoyed getting to understand the background story of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, commonly known as CRISPR, which is the backbone of this book.  Much of the book focuses on finding a cure for HIV through genetic modification, which is where much of the current research is focused.  It is a higher-level book, so just reading for enjoyment likely won’t be what keeps readers engrossed.

The Big Three

Author: Michael Holley

Publisher: Hatchette Book Group

Release Date: December 1, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Celtics fans and fans of pro basketball in general will enjoy this documentary.

How did the Boston Celtics go from being one of the league dominating teams throughout the 1980s to a general contender in the 1990s to their lowest point in history in the early 2000s only to regroup and rebuild in a single year to win the NBA Championship?  Michael Holley delivers an extraordinary documentary of how the Celtics were rebuilt over time centered around Paul Pierce and how they obtained Kevin Garnett from the Timberwolves and Ray Allen from the Sonics to become the new Big Three that would bring another championship to Boston!

While this book is about basketball, its not really about playing basketball.  Its about the business of NBA basketball and how general managers build a championship team and a coach that was able to take three superstars and help quash egos so that they played as a team and not three individual stars.  The Big Three gives a lot of insight into how trades are done, drafts are managed, and the personal life of coaches and players.  It’s easy to just think of basketball, but there is so much that goes on in the front office that is mind blowing.  I loved reading about how this process got started and how difficult it was for the players, coach, and manger when the fans weren’t happy but they knew that they would have it locked in for the next season. 

There is some strong language throughout the book featured in direct quotes from players and coaches.  I recommended this book for mature audiences that are lovers of the NBA and Celtics fans.

2020 Top Nonfiction

While 2020 gave us some great escapes into the fiction realm, it also produced a lot of nonfiction titles that were quite captivating! From biographies to histories, these titles are a great addition to any library!

The Fight to Flourish by Jennie Lusko

Jennie Lusko shared her struggles in her story that has been long awaited. As a well known figure for her work with husband Levi, she shows how she is still human and has the same problems as the rest of us!

Read the full review.

Fix Her Upper Christmas by Beth Duewel and Rhonda Rhea

While centered around the stress of the holiday season, this book still gives readers a great refreshed feeling mixed with humor. These two never disappoint us and keep us coming back for more with every Fix Her Upper edition.

Read the full review.

The Patriots by Winston Groom

Groom is widely known for his ability to bring history to life and keep it interesting and entertaining for readers of all ages. This book focuses on three of the founding fathers, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Adams, and their love for country and hatred for each other!

Read the full review.

Finding Quiet: My Journey to Peace in an Anxious World by Jamie Grace

So many of the things written in this book resonated with us. It can be hard to take the time to just sit and be quiet. Our world is loud and crazy right now which makes finding a quiet moment very difficult. Jamie Grace delivers a wonderful addition to anyone’s library of little ways to find quiet when it seems impossible!

Read the full review.

365 Ways to Love Your Child by 3

A perfect book that showcases all the little ways we sometimes forget can be used to experience love with our children.

Read the full review.

Fix Her Upper: Christmas

Authors: Beth Duewel & Rhonda Rhea

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: November 24, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fix-Her-Upper Christmas is a wonderful addition in this season, especially in the year we are all going through. Everyone can gleam something wonderful from this spectacularly fun book!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or the most stressful time for some. If this season of shopping, family, decorations is getting a tad overwhelming, you are not alone. Throughout the pages of this book, you will find story upon story from Beth and Rhonda of trials and struggles they have gone through and the way they worked through them with humor and faith to discover the real reason for the season was worth more than any gift they could buy. The message is clear, even in the frantic season we are in, our focus should be on Jesus, He is the reason for the season, and if we forget that, there really is nothing to celebrate. Less is more is a main theme throughout, and I love that. The devotions are spot on with just the right amount of humor and insightful tidbits to bring us joy and helpful holiday tips.

Anytime you pick up a Rhonda Rhea and Beth Duewel book you know you are going to be rolling on the floor laughing and come away feeling refreshed. This time of year, we could use with a little laughter and refreshing. No matter how hard this year has been, and for some it has been unbearable, we can all find some cheer within the pages and rely on the hope that Christmas is about the birth of our savior and nothing is more important than that. If we fix our eyes on Him, this could very well be the best Christmas we have ever had.

Walk Run Soar

Author: Dorina Gilmore Young

Publisher: Baker Books

Release Date: September 29, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

No matter your pace, whether you walk, run, or soar, this book will give you some insights for the path you are taking.

Dorina Gilmore Young, with her husband Shawn, bring a fifty-two-week devotional for people that like to be active at whatever pace.  Dorina is a runner, both for competition and for fun, and she shares many of the insights that she has gained by running.  She lost her first husband to cancer and spends time dwelling on that relationship throughout many of the devotionals.  She also spends time on learning to hear Jesus, serving his mission, and conditioning our bodies for his work.  Each chapter is provided with a short narrative called Faith Fuel, an action item called Faith Step, a short couple of sentences for Inspiration, and a word of encouragement from her husband, Coach Shawn.  I have spent time reading a devotional each day after my bible reading and have found it very uplifting.  Each devotional also gives a section to write down notes during each day’s workouts and/or runs.  My husband uses this as he is an active runner and it has helped him think through some things when he runs.

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

Jesus Freaks

Authors: D.C. Talk & Voice of the Martyrs

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: October 27, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An updated edition of the inspiring story of those who have stood up for Jesus and paid the ultimate price.

Around the world Christians are being persecuted for their faith; they stand for Jesus until their very last breath. The stories are inspiring can help each and every one of us in our own walk with Christ. Within these pages we can read about the first martyrs up to ones in the present day. Jesus Freaks is part of the Richard Wurmbrand’s Voice of the Martyrs organization showing faithful Christian leaders who suffered many years ago in Communist prisons. Wurmbrand has even testified before Congress showing wounds he received while being tortured for his faith. He, like so many others, have gone through hardships we can only imagine.

I picked up Jesus Freaks on a day I was feeling sorry for myself and some of the things I was going through. Reading through these stories helped me put into perspective how grateful I need to be for all that I have, including my faith and freedom to live and express my faith freely. Across the world, others are not so lucky. They profess a faith in Jesus and get tortured and even killed for it, and they do so willingly in order to share the good news of Christ. To have a faith like that and be excited about prison, torture or death is hard to imagine. I believe but going to that level would be hard for so many of us. I strive to strengthen my faith each day and reading this while going through a difficult time was just what I needed. At first, it was hard reading about the difficult and painful times these believers went through, and I have so little to complain about, but as I read, I used their stories to help me gain perspective. There are places and people in this world that are not safe for believers to go, but those are the places that these believers go and preach and bring the lost to the lord. I for one am thankful for these stories, they remind me that no matter how bad things are, if I lift my eyes I’ll see where my help is. It’s not always easy, and when it’s the hardest that’s when we will see the biggest rewards.  I recommend this to all those going through a hard time and needing a reminder of no matter the cost our faith is worth it.

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