365 Ways to Love Your Child

Author: Julie Lavender

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 20, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

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

365 Ways to Love Your Child is a book written for all parents. Within its pages, readers will find encouragement to show kids each and every day how loved they are. It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture, sometimes it’s the simple things that mean the most. Write a letter to leave in their lunch box that says you are always thinking of them. Give them an extra hug, squeeze a little longer and a little tighter every chance you get. So many of the actions she gives as examples are so simple, I caught myself smiling and shaking my head as I read many of them thinking I should do those more often. In our world right now, we often find ourselves so busy even the smallest task added to our list can be overwhelming. When its those little tasks that can mean the most to our kids, and in turn leave a lasting impression on both them and us.

We only have a short amount of time with our children and if we don’t make the most of it, we will regret it. One thing the last few months of COVID and quarantine has taught me is to enjoy the time we have together. While things shut down and we had nowhere to go and nothing to do, playing games together and going for walks and bike rides became fun again. Eating together and talking about the day and all we had to be thankful was a nightly ritual and it didn’t go unnoticed by me or my family. Just telling someone you love them isn’t always enough, showing them by your actions and taking the time to do stuff together can often mean more than just saying the words. Lavender does a fantastic job of pointing out all the little things we forget can mean showing love to our kids. Something as simple as putting your phone away and looking them in the eye.  In the world we live in that is very rare and I think it is time we start doing more to show our kids they are more important than an electronic device to us, because when they get the electronics we know that is where there attention will be focused just as ours can tend to be. I would recommend that all parents pick up a copy of this book and highlight certain sections that are most relevant to them and can be best implemented in their daily lives together.

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

The Brothers of Auschwitz

Author: Malka Adler

Publisher: One More Chapter

Release Date: September 1, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story that cannot help but bring about emotion from anyone who reads it!

Dov and Yitzhak are brothers in a Jewish family that live high in the Hungarian mountains.  They are isolated from society outside of their small village, but one day in 1944 changes everything.  They knew that a war was going on in Europe, but they weren’t really affected by it.  When the Axis troops show up, they entire family suddenly finds themselves on a train bound for Auschwitz.  Shortly after arriving, all members of the family find themselves separated, some never to be seen again.  Dov and Yitzhak are sent to different work groups and experience the horrors of multiple concentration camps.  After reuniting, they have kept quiet about their experiences until now.  Told to a family friend, the stories and horrors experienced both during the concentration camps as well as after their liberation are told. 

The stories will cause readers to experience a sea of emotions while reading the text.  These are stories that should not be forgotten to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.  Several of these experiences are generalized in historical fiction, but when it’s truly biographical, it touches the readers soul!  This time period has always been of interest to me, but I haven’t felt this way when reading about the concentration camps since I read Schindler’s List over 20 years ago.  Just knowing that its true brings about a different level of comprehension.  I read this in just a few hours over a couple of flights and found myself talking to random passengers about it after I finished. 

There was only one item that I really disliked throughout the book and that was how it was presented.  There is no differentiation between verbal dialogue and general description.  However, it wasn’t enough to take away from the book itself.  There is some language throughout the book, which is expected of the nature of the book.  I recommend this to mature audiences and those they have an interest in the time period.

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

Let Them be Kids

let them be kidsAuthor: Jessica Smartt

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: June 9, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A very practical guide to helping raise strong, well-mannered kids which also focuses on letting kids be kids and how to foster that childlike nature and fun within all of us.

Jessica Smartt crafts a well-balanced guide on raising kids that have values, good manners and also know how to have fun. It’s one thing to raise kids that are nice but also foster creativity and fun. Being a former English teacher and homeschooling mom of three, Jessica Smartt has spent years with young kids discovering the trial and error of what works and what doesn’t when raising kids. We don’t want to be the Pintrest mom or the Facebook mom who all we see is little snippets of their greatest moments, we have to be ourselves and let our kids see us as our true selves so they can be comfortable in their own skin.

Let Them Be Kids is a perfect read for parents, new and experienced. We can all learn something from the pages of this book. Being part story and part guidebook, readers will find great resources to help them in the trying times of raising young ones. I loved the way she talks about helping instill creativity in young children and how it is okay for them to be bored and learn to entertain themselves. That is so key; it would be easy to hand over a screen for entertainment these days but if we think back to when we were kids, we didn’t have near the options our kids do today for entertainment. I have to tell my boys a lot that it’s not my job to entertain them all the time. Several of the chapters give great advice on ways to entertain kids and help them entertain themselves. Never once does Smartt make us feel as if we aren’t doing a good job as parents, instead she gives us tools to help instill confidence in us as parents and ways to enjoy this time with our children. We only have a short amount of time with our kids and it would be a shame to look back and regret these younger years having not spent enough time together and enjoying the little moments. This is a book for all parents and parents to be, so many good take-aways that I will be pondering for days to come to implement in my routine with my boys.

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

The Fight to Flourish

Fight to flourishAuthor: Jennie Lusko

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With raw emotion splashed across every page, Jennie Lusko shares her struggle with grief over losing a child.

Jennie and her husband Levi are the pastors of Fresh Life Church headquartered in Kalispell, Montana with campus across Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. They stay busy but enjoyed the life they were living with their four daughters. One fateful day before Christmas, their five-year-old daughter Lenya suffered a severe asthma attack that ended in a tragic loss. After that day, nothing felt the same anymore. Everything became a struggle. Family vacations weren’t the same. Relationships changed. Even now, several years later and the addition of a boy to the family, there are still times that Jennie misses Lenya fiercely and struggles to return to any kind of routine. But God never changes, and she knows that she can rely on him.

Jennie shares several entries of her personal journals on days that she severely struggled with grief. Everybody struggles with something, whether it’s day to day tasks, being in the middle of a large project, or relationships. I have not experienced the loss of a child, but I almost did after a freak accident left my son with a skull fracture as I watched him be airlifted away. Ironically, this occurred in Monterey, California which is Jennie’s hometown. The struggle to forgive oneself is the hardest of all. There are thoughts of “If I’d done this…” or “Why didn’t I…..” These don’t make it any easier to move on through the process of grief.

Jennie does a tremendous job laying out thoughts and ideas for people that are struggling to flourish in their life. Her emotion is raw and displayed for everyone to read, showing how vulnerable she truly is. She talks about how she may look like she has it together, but underneath she is a mess. I think we all feel that way at some point in our lives and I’m glad that someone with the courage to share her story with everyone.

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

Becoming the Next Great Generation

Becoming the next generationAuthor: Jonathan Catherman

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 17, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A guide to assist young adults into true leaders!

Many teens and young adults find themselves frustrated with older generations. Many of these individuals want to become leaders and are seeking the opportunity to influence not only their generation, but previous ones as well. The problem is that there is a difference between the generations in communication and experiences. Jonathan Catherman has written a delightful book to help the members of the young generation understand how to overcome those differences. He works to explain the experiences of the older generations and the obstacles that they had to overcome. Catherman does a great job tailoring his book presentation to the intended audience. Many should feel lead to accept the challenge to overcome obstacles and take the reins as the next great generation.

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

Guiding the Next Great Generation

Guiding the next generationAuthor: Jonathan Catherman

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 17, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A guide to assist today’s leaders to transition the reins to true leaders of the next generation!

Doesn’t every generation feel that the next generation is going to be a failure? Or at least that is what I have heard. Yet somehow we always seem to continue down the path. It’s easy to look at the upcoming generation and become worried about what is going to happen in the future. Why passively worry about it when we can actively do something? Jonathan Catherman has given us a simple guide of some thoughts on how we can help young individuals become reader to transition into people of influence. This is a great book for parents, teachers, Sunday school teachers, and workplace leaders. Drawing on real world examples, Catherman shows how this has been overcome in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

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

Thinking Like a Boss

bossAuthor: Kate Crocco

Publisher: Baker Books

Release Date: February 18, 2020

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Are you looking to branch out into a successful business, but don’t feel like you can? Stop listening to those voices and check out this book!

Women are beginning to emerge as successful entrepreneurs all across the country and even the world. Many are feeling the pull to start their own business but are afraid that they don’t have what it takes. Maybe you as a reader fall into that category. Kate Crocco even felt that way and now her business focuses on coaching women to become successful entrepreneurs. If you feel like you can’t do this, then you have at least one lie in your life that is holding you back. Maybe more. Kate outlines twelve common lies that hold women (and many men) back from beginning this journey and steps to overcome them.

I can fully understand where the author is coming from in this book. While not a typical entrepreneur, I used to review with a community blog and circumstances eventually led to me beginning my own blog and when I started it out it was hard. I fell into several of these lies about deciding whether or not to keep it going. Years later, I’m so glad that I did. This book is a great resource even if you are just considering trying something new. I’m glad that Kate put these thoughts into print, and I love that she made it actionable. Having to write things down and make them into commitments really helps to hold yourself accountable.

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

The Successful Speaker

speakerAuthor: Grant Baldwin

Publisher: Baker Books

Release Date: February 18, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Baldwin delivers some great information for those looking to make speaking a career or just some helpful tips on those looking to speak.

It’s not hard to get a taste of the speaking bug and want more. Once that happens and you realize that this is what you want to do, you need to figure out how to make a career out of it. Unfortunately, many people fail before they ever get their careers off the ground. Grant Baldwin, creator of The Speaker Lab podcast, outlines the steps and guidelines necessary to make the transition from wanting to speak to full fledged career speaker.

Finally, a book that really provides some insight into successful speaking. Not so much on the technique, but on how to be successful getting gigs and booked. There is plenty of material on the method of speaking, so I was glad to find a book that actually helps speakers determine where they want to go. My husband speaks frequently at conferences across the nation as a subject matter expert and I asked him to read the book to get his opinion on it. He agreed with almost all of the concepts this book lays out. He fully agreed that if you want to be asked to speak, you can’t just speak about whatever you want. First you have to find a problem to solve that people are going to want to hear your thought. Then rather than trying to speak about a bunch of different topics, you need to focus on your message and get good at delivery. Then build your brand so that your expertise is recognized.

If you are looking to make a career out of speaking, then this is a great resource for you. It is easy to follow and provides several personal examples from both the author and other speakers.

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

Everywhere Holy

Everywhere holyAuthor: Kara Lawler

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

All readers will resonate with some portion of this book!

People have a common misconception that God’s holiness is only found in certain places. Many have experienced His holiness on a mountaintop, by a rushing river, in a cathedral, and in a meadow, but perhaps it is because they expected to find it there. Kara Lawler shows readers that everywhere we look is holy. Special moments between friends or parents and children as well as moments of reflection can bring out His holiness. We don’t have to look in grand places, just look were we are. We are loved just as we are, and He wants us to know that!

If you are living through the hustle and bustle of life with a need to slow down, this book is for you. If you deal with depression, this book is for you. If you have questions about your self-image, this book is for you. Basically, whatever you are dealing with, this book is for you. I don’t think there is a better time than now for people to have a copy of this book. Many of us are experiencing the challenges of staying at home in response to the COVID-19 situation being experienced throughout the world. Many of us are facing new challenges we’ve never thought we would experience, yet at the same time, we are discovering that we actually have down time and don’t know what to do with ourselves. The answer is simple, read this book and reflect on it. Kara Lawler shares many of her personal experiences and challenges that so many women will find similar to their own stories.

The two parts of this book that really resonated with were the chapter on water and the chapter on angels. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to water, whether it is the ocean, river, stream, or waterfall. That is where I have always found the most sense of peach wash over me, just like the water is taking away my cares and troubles. I feel like I truly connected with the author at that moment. The chapter about angels made me cry, especially when she talked about how her daughter recognized when angels were watching over her. My youngest son had a traumatic accident when he was almost three years old and we had to put our faith in God and his angels when they loaded him into an ambulance to take him to a helicopter for a life flight. His angles watched over him then and they continue to do so today.

Readers will learn how to experience God in this beautifully written piece of work. I hope that you will learn to breathe and find His holiness wherever you are today!

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

Eat Sleep Work Repeat

eatAuthor: Bruce Daisley

Publisher: Harper One

Release Date: February 25, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

If you’ve reached the point of burnout in your career or just don’t find it fulfilling, this book gives some tips to rediscover joy in your job.

Bruce Daisley, vice president of Twitter Europe and host of the podcast Eat Sleep Work Repeat, delves into why people no longer find fulfillment in their careers. It can range from many different things including company culture to management expectations to personal burnout. So, how does one rediscover joy in their job? Daisley breaks this down into three different areas: recharge, sync, and buzz. Most of these items are for personal ownership and common sense. Recharge includes measures as ditching long meetings for short walking meetings as the endorphins created by exercise will give you a boost throughout the day. Other recharges including getting a goodnight sleep and shortening the work week. Syncs are more of a company approach that suggest noncompany social times, knowing when to encourage people and when to leave them alone, and letting divisions take breaks and lunches together so that they can develop cohesiveness. Lastly, buzzes focus on how to energize a team. These items include making work seem like problem solving exercises instead of mundane activity and removing outside electronics from meetings to have the full team attention. Whatever the need, there is likely a subject that touches on it in this book.

Overall this book was an enjoyable read. Several of the items within it are common to other business books as well. I did enjoy getting to see the view of American work culture from the European perspective. I knew that several companies expect their employees to work long hours in order to move up the ladder, but it was alarming to discover how many different fields this occurs in. My favorite part may have been when it talked about how you can’t create company culture, it has to happen organically. So, if a company has a group dedicated to creating company culture, it has already failed. There was some foul language in this book as a result of some direct quotes, but otherwise was pretty clean. If you enjoy books on making employees feel empowered, then this one is for you.

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