Reclaim Your Happy Space

Fix Her UpperAuthors: Rhonda Rhea & Beth Duewel

Series: Fix Her Upper

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: June 27, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Sometimes we all need a little help finding our happy space when life tries to hide it from us. Rhonda Rhea and Beth Duewel deliver a wonderful guide to help readers reclaim the happy that many haven’t even realize is lost.

If we are to find our joy in the Lord, why do we feel so down at times? Is your life in need of a renovation to find your lost happy and restore the joy when it seems all is lost? These questions and many more are answered in a way that will bring a smile to readers faces and show how to live your very best life. We were not meant to survive, we are meant to thrive with the Lord beside us. The authors of the previous Fix Her Upper books bring a new installment that is sure to excite readers and bring back the lost Happy!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it is rather hard to be happy. Even when things are good, it can still be hard to believe it is okay to be happy. I absolutely loved the way this book showed me it was okay to be happy, we deserve to be happy. Our Father wants us to be Happy. Think about that for a minute, our Father in heaven truly wants us to be happy, that is the most wonderful thing of all. Rhonda describes it beautifully when she says, “It’s impossible to whine about the “robe of righteousness.” It’s borrowed from Christ. And though this whiny woman doesn’t deserve it, it fits perfectly.” We don’t deserve the mercy and goodness we receive, but we receive it nonetheless. Each chapter is laced with happy goodness and scripture that hits the point home that we have so many reasons to be happy. Along with scripture, both Rhonda and Beth deliver the message with such humor I found myself laughing out loud at times and praising God for the happy moments of reading these words and taking to heart what was written within. At times it really can be hard to be happy, life is tough and sometimes the darkness can seem overwhelming. During those times, we need to remember these resources we have at our fingertips to bring the happy back to the forefront. I recommend this book to everyone!  No matter what you are going through, look to this book to help you find something to be happy about and remember how much the Father loves us all.

Powerful Prayers for your Son

Power prayers

Authors: Rob & Joanna Teigen

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A wonderful tool for all parents of boys as they grow and go through the difficult times life will throw their way.

 As parents we always want to pray for our kids. Sometimes finding the right prayer can be difficult. Rob and Joanna Teigen write that even when we as parents don’t understand our son doesn’t mean God doesn’t understand what they are going through and what they need. This book offers prayers for many different situations and even stories from parents going through hard times, how they prayed for their kids and what God did to answer those prayers. Also included are sections that explain what is important for boys to learn as they grow and how parents can pray for the lives of their children

 I absolutely loved reading this book. I have two young boys and constantly want to pray the right things for them. In the day and age, we are living in a time when there is so much bad in the world that our kids are exposed to, we need to be on guard and pray constantly. I loved the areas with Prayer Stories that gave good examples of what some parents have gone through and how they prayed for their son and how God answered those prayers, even if it wasn’t exactly what they prayed for. Even when we don’t know the right words to pray for our children, if we will call out to God He will answer our prayers in the way He knows is right; it may not always be what we think is right but later if we look back we will see how right it truly is. Certain sections really resonated with me as I see my son going through those tough times and wonder if I am doing enough for him and want him to seek God and hope I am setting the right example.  The payers don’t have to be long, they are just enough to say what is on the heart, that we love our children and truly want what is best for them.  I recommend this book to parents of kids young and old.  We should never stop praying for our kids and can always use more resources to add to our arsenal for them.

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

Eat, Live, Thrive Diet

eatAuthor: Danna Demetre & Robyn Thomson

Publisher: Waterbrook Press

Release Date: March 26, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

For midlife women looking to help get their health back on track comes a book that will explain why women gain weight as they age and give tools to fight back.

Eat, Live, Thrive Diet is a book written to help show women how they can lose the extra body fat they have accumulated and improve overall health as they age. Included is an eating plan written by two very experienced health coaches who give their own personal examples of battling weight loss and emotional eating. This is not a short-lived diet, but a long-term lifestyle change for those needing it.  One point the book makes is the dangers that can be found in many of the fad diets that are so popular today.

Eat, Live, Thrive Diet is an in-depth look at how your body can change, as you get older. The book explores several different phases of eliminating certain food groups from your diet that can help you feel your best. One of the things I liked about their approach was saying that not everything would work for every individual.  Our bodies are all different and we will react in different ways to cutting out or adding foods or supplements.  The charts are very helpful to readers wondering what to cut out and when. I personally am not a huge fan of the Keto diet and appreciate how this book shows the difference in their approach to Keto and other fad diets on the market today. I have always tried to live with the motto of everything in moderation. With that being said, there are several things that I do believe have no place in our bodies; sodas are at the top of my list, diet or regular, I see no need to put that in our bodies. I gave up drinking sodas when I was about 13 and have had no desire to pick them up since. If we can make sure and stay hydrated by drinking water, our bodies will thank us. Sometimes when we think we are hungry it is really our bodies saying we are thirsty. Danna and Robyn both do a great job of giving examples into their own lives with the changes they are proposing so readers can see a firsthand example of what they might be experiencing. The last section of the book provides readers with recipes for meals that will stay within the guidelines and be enjoyable to eat for the whole family. For the most part this isn’t a meal plan you can follow if you are a picky eater, but if you are willing to branch out and try new things you might be surprised how good it can make you feel. I recommend this to any midlife readers looking to kick start their metabolism and change their life.

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

God’s Favor

Gods favor

Author: Gary Wilkerson

Publisher: Chosen Books

Release Date: February 19, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When it can seem hard to find God’s favor in your life, that is when we need to look deeper to see all that we take for granted and thank God for all that he does that we might not even realize.

 As Christians we want to find favor from God. The problem is we can easily take for granted all that we are favored with and don’t even realize.  Pastor Gary Wilkerson gives us a more in-depth picture of what it really means to find God’s favor. Even when we don’t see it, God is pouring out his blessings, forgiveness, restoration, joy, peace, and so much more in our lives. By God pouring out this favor on us, we can in turn show his love and favor to family and friends. God’s favor isn’t meant to end with us, there is a whole wide world out there waiting to experience all God has to offer.

 When things are going well, it is easy to thank God for his favor and blessings. When things are not so great, that’s a different story. In this book, Wilkerson shows us in scripture how to look beneath the trouble we see and find a deeper blessing in the hard times. We are never promised a trouble free life if we believe, but we are promised that God will be with us through the good times and the bad. I have found lately that we must take these bad times for all they are worth and use them to help us appreciate the good times even more. One of my favorite lines in the book is at the beginning, “When things go south know that God is up to something!”  When it is hardest to see God working for us is when He is fighting the hardest to bring us what is best for us. It may not be exactly what we want, but that’s ok, it will be even better than we could have imagined if we will just remember who He is. God loves us and wants us to feel his favor, he is never against us and we can relish in the fact that He is always at work FOR us! I recommend this book especially to anyone going through a hard time finding God’s favor in their life and needing reassurance of His love.

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

Top 2019 Nonfiction

Moving onto our next category, here are our top picks for nonfiction.  Ranging from fitness to espionage, these are sure to be must reads.

breaking cover1. Breaking Cover by Michele Rigby Assad

Personal stories from an ex-CIA operative coupled with a faith basis made this our top pick for the year.  Grab a copy while you still can.

Read the full review here.







The Tunnels2. The Tunnels by Greg Mitchell

With a descriptive,  yet informative narrative about the initial weeks after the Berlin wall went up, this read more like a fast paced fiction novel.  Such an educational novel to those that don’t really know the history behind the wall.

Read the full review here.






Mothers book of blessing3. A Mother’s Book of Blessings

With inspirational stories at every turn, this book really knows how to lift mothers up.

Read the full review here.





The Spartan Way4. The Spartan Way by Joe De Sena

Spartan up!  Aroo!  This book will entice you to get off the couch and change your life.  With plenty of Spartan Race stories, this will get you energized for the new year!

Read the full review here.






SOTT5. The Spirit of the Trail by Carrie Morgridge

Another great inspirational read that will set your new year off right.  This book accounts a day by day trek of bike riding the continental divide!

Read the full review here.

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.

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.