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.

The Healing Power of Essential Oils

Essential OilsAuthor: Eric Zielinski, D.C.

Publisher: Harmony

Release Date: March 13, 2018

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Dr. Zielinski wrote The Healing Power of Essential Oils as a way to demonstrate that people can use essential oils in conjunction with modern medicine, under a doctor’s care, or as a means of alternate therapy.  His book breaks down the various kinds of essential oils, how they are used, and different ailments or symptoms that can be treated using essential oils.  A Christian, licensed chiropractor, and public health clinical researcher, Dr. Z uses a variety of methods to introduce his readers to the use of essential oils.  He includes recipes, anecdotes, clinical research, and personal experience to demonstrate his endorsement of these gifts of nature.

Starting at the beginning, Dr. Z explains what essential oils are, their history of use through time, and how they are created.  He introduces the more common and useful oils and references several different sources of the oils themselves and the various accoutrements used with them.  He makes an effort to consider costs when recommending various items and will recommend oils that can be used for more than one purpose.

As the book progresses, each chapter explores either a particular oil or an area of treatment (weight loss, candida, women’s health) and how essential oils may be able to help.  He includes recipes for a variety of methods of use: ingestion, rubs and ointments, and inhalants.  Dr. Z continually cautions readers that not all remedies are one-size-fits-all, and encourages people to try small and then build up.  He also cautions that not every body will respond in the same way to treatment, so experimentation may be required.  Most importantly, Dr. Z lists cautions and side effects of various essential oils.  All put together, this is a good reference to get people started if they are interested in using essential oils.

Dr. Z’s language throughout the book is familiar and colloquial instead of clinical and difficult to read; even dilutions and medical terms are explained so that pretty much anyone can understand.  He throws in some Biblical reference from time to time to demonstrate how healing relates in a Biblical sense, but the book itself does not come across as pushing religion.

It’s hard to say if essential oils are really helpful in treating disease or infection, but Dr. Z’s many references to clinical studies certainly give credibility.  As someone who uses essential oils mostly for olfactory purposes, I was intrigued to find out what he had to say. I am convinced enough to try some of the recipes to see if they work, although I have not tried them yet.  I was a little disappointed that there was not a section on cleaning and using essential oils throughout the home, but overall, I was impressed with how much information was packed into the book. Anyone interested in trying out essential oils could benefit from this book, and it is written in a style that is clear and easy to understand.

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

Breaking Cover

breaking coverAuthor: Michele Rigby Assad

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A remarkable firsthand account of a woman’s role in the CIA in the Middle East post 9/11.

Michele Rigby Assad didn’t grow up with plans to join the CIA or have an interest in the middle east. In fact, she never considered even going to the middle east until she met the man who would be her husband.  Her husband, Joseph, is an Egyptian national who came to the United States after his family was persecuted for their faith and he couldn’t enter a university because of being a Christian.  At a career fair while attending Georgetown, she decides to go to a CIA career fair.  What happens as a result of that meeting puts a plan into motion that sends them over to extremely conservative Arab countries that aren’t women friendly.  But the challenges she faces continually prepare her for the next stage of her life.  Not only does she work as a clandestine operative, but after leaving the agency, she finds work as  a security consultant that ultimately leads to helping persecuted Christians out of Iraq.

This book was very exciting and fast paced. The story is told progressively and educational at the same time.  The concept of the CIA is fascinating, so when you have the chance the hear a firsthand account, it is always worth reading about.  Further, it was very educational to understand more about middle eastern culture and how both the United States is perceived as well as foreign woman.  This is going to be one of my top nonfiction picks for the year!

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

Guide to State Parks

State ParksPublisher: National Geographic Press

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With pictures, maps, and visiting tips, this new edition is an adventurer’s must have!

Broken into ten regions, each section gives highlights of select state parks throughout all fifty states. Each state is featured with a group of ideal state parks to visit, which includes a map showing the location of the state park within the state as well as one or two color photos that the traveler can expect to take in a certain times of the year.  Each state park also provides information on operating times, what to see and do, lodging information, and nearby sights.  Additionally, a more compressive list of other state parks is included to the few featured for each state in case the traveler’s appetite is whetted for more adventure.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was seeing how many of the state parks that I have already visited. We are a family who love to go state and national parks and enjoy nature through hiking, biking, kayaking, and so on.  This is another book that we have already earmarked pages of places that we want to visit.  We’re heading out to California in June and are planning to check out one of these new parks along the way.  It is easy to navigate and will be a resource we consistently reference.  I recommend this book for the traveler and those who love to read about nature.

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

Guide to Scenic Byways and Highways of the United States

Scenic BywaysPublisher: National Geographic Press

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With pictures, maps, and visiting tips, this new edition is a road warriors must have!

Broken into ten regions, each section gives highlights of scenic drives throughout all fifty states. Each state is featured with a group of ideal drives, which includes a map showing the location and relative distance of the drive as well as one or two color photos that the traveler can expect to take in a certain times of the year.  Each drive is also provided with some points of interest to stop along the way as well as a little history.  Undoubtedly this doesn’t catch every scenic trip worth taking, but is sure to get even the amateur traveler started in the right direction.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was seeing how many of the drives I have already done. On the ones that I’ve completed, the pictures brought back memories of the drive and I might even add to the list of some of the points of interest.  It also gives me a great guide for future places that I want to visit.  We’ve always been an “out of the way” travel family preferring to take the less traveled path rather than get there as quick as possible, so this book was right up our alley.  I recommend this to people who like to travel and get ideas about places that they would like to visit.

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.

The Tunnels

The TunnelsAuthor: Greg Mitchell

Publisher: Crown

Release Date: October 18, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

History lovers will love this exciting description of the first year of escapes under the Berlin wall.

In August of 1961, a physical barrier was erected separating the already tense division between East and West Berlin. Germans who lived in East Berlin but worked in the West were suddenly found unemployed.  Families were separated, but many felt the wall wouldn’t last.  They expected to see it come down any day as a failed experiment.  Slowly, the barbed wire fence become concrete and finding a weak area to cross or escape was getting more and more difficult.  However, a few people with a passion to see their fellow Germans free worked to figure out a way to tunnel under the wall and bring escapees into the West.  Some were successful, others not as much. The Tunnels explores these expeditions as well as the tensions between Washington, Berlin, and Russia during one of the most tense times in history.

Prior to this book, I knew about the Berlin wall, but not about what all it represented and how much it divided families across the city and country. Reading the descriptions about how oppressed the East was and how people trying to escape were killed and the propaganda was used to make them look like their death was a good thing was appalling.  It is hard to believe that this was just over fifty years ago.

Mitchell did a great job presenting this book in a way that read more like a novel than a nonfiction historical account. It was fascinating, quick to read, and educating.  Since reading this, I have shared it with over readers who felt the same way.  I really enjoyed getting to find out more about the time frame and how the Kennedy administration handled the situations and how it impacted the Cold War.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested about the wall or just about the era itself.

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