Top 5 Nonfiction

Next up is our top picks for nonfiction.  Any of these would be great last minute Christmas gifts!

Laught it up

1.  Laugh it Up by Candace Payne

Chewbacca mom anyone?  This book is just as infectious as her famous laugh.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

courage-to-soar

2. Courage to Soar by Simone Biles

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.  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.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

The Last Girl

3. The Last Girl by Nadia Murad

A shocking first hand account of the terrors of ISIS on many young women.  This book will inspire you to join Nadia’s cause!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lets be real

4. Let’s be Real by Natasha Bure

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.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

Heaven

5. Between Heaven and the Real Word by Steven Curtis Chapman

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.

Read the full review here.

Laugh it Up

Laught it upAuthor: Candace Payne

Publisher: Zondervan

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Everyone fell in love with Candace Payne with the video of her wearing a Chewbacca mask and loving every minute of it went viral. Now she has a book out that will make you love her even more.

Candace Payne had no idea that buying a simple Star Wars toy would lead to the life she has now. She is a wife and mother of two from Dallas Texas and has captured the hearts of nearly 200 million with her infectious laugh all while wearing a Chewbacca mask and recording a video on her phone for Facebook.  It quickly became the top viewed video at Facebook and lead to a slew of interviews and opportunities she might never have otherwise had. Laugh It Up tells the story of how she has found laughter in some of the most difficult circumstances and worked her way through to become the person she is today.

Like you, I can remember the first time I saw the video of Candace wearing the mask and couldn’t keep from laughing. There was just something about her laugh and wearing that masks that made me watch the video over and over just to put a smile on my face. Laugh It Up goes deep into what has made Candace Payne the woman she is today.  Without knowing the backstory, we can’t truly appreciate her.  Her words are both funny and heartfelt.  Just like most of us she has gone through her share of struggles and luckily has found a way to overcome those struggles and find something to laugh and smile about, which in turn, has made millions of others laugh as well.  There are going to be those that don’t like what she has to say, there always are.  But for the majority of readers they will hopefully come away with a better understanding of Chewbacca Mom and what truly makes her someone for us to look to and say there are good things in this life and things to laugh about, we just have to find them.

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

The Fugitive’s Sister

Fugitive sisterAuthor: Linda L. Case

Publisher: W & B Publishers Inc.

Release Date: October 29, 2015

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A miscarriage of justice of an innocent sister sent to prison as a ploy to get her sister, the real criminal behind bars.

When Linda’s brother dies she promises him that she will take care of their mother and younger sister, Becky. Two days after the funeral, Becky’s company is found to be under investigation by the FBI, who shuts it down and convicts Becky of several white collar crimes looking at a possible seventy five years in prison. Becky, never one to stick around for a punishment, runs off and becomes one of America’s Most Wanted criminals. Shortly after she disappears, she makes contact with Linda for help. Linda is in a tough place; she wants to fulfill her promise to her bother and protect her sister but worries if she is doing the right thing. She soon finds out the FBI has been waiting for her to do something that can be used against her to bring her sister to justice. Linda finds herself where her sister should be, behind bars. While Linda struggles to survive and her family fights to free her, flaws in the justice system become visible and heed the warning of what happened to Linda could happen to anyone.

The true story of what Linda Case went through is one that could rival any crime novel out there. I never really felt like I was reading a biography because the story flowed so well. It was a story of what this family went through and not just a retelling of events, which I enjoyed. Linda had some really difficult times she had to endure and reading about her sister and the way she was treated by not only Becky but also the FBI and judges involved made me feel for her and the situation she was in.  You can easily say the things she went through were not fair, and the lack of remorse her sister showed for what she made everyone go through was enough to make her out to be a very good antagonist in the story. The ending was kind of abrupt to me. I wish there would have been a little more time spent following through on the characters and what happened instead of the ending it had (I don’t want to say anymore and give something away).  I would recommend this to readers that enjoy a good true crime story with elements that each family can relate to in some way.

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

The Last Girl

The Last GirlAuthor: Nadia Murad

Publisher: Tim Duggan Books

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

You sure you want to know the truth about ISIS? Read this and find out about inhumane trafficking.

Nadia Murad is a Yazidi who spent her entire life in the village of Kocho in Iraq. She was from a large family who worked as farmers.  The families had to be large to have enough children to help work the farms.  The more kids you had, the larger of farm you could handle.  Still, she went to school and learned the material placed into Iraq’s educational systems, which also wasn’t fully truthful.  Yazidis have been persecuted for several years by several different groups.  They are different in that they have no holy book such as the koran or a bible, but keep their religion alive by passing stories down between priests for centuries.  However, they have also survived alongside Sunni Arabs and Kurds without any problems, until ISIS came.  The day they came into town, everything changed.  The routes out of town were cut and nobody was allowed to leave.  Fear drove people to stay inside their homes, but nothing happened to them until the day they told the people to either convert to Islam or be taken to their holy mountain.  Hopeful, everybody came to the schoolhouse to be taken to their holy mountain only to have all of the men and older women slaughtered.  Young boys were sent to an ISIS training compound and the young women were forced to become sex slaves for ISIS militants.  Nadia was bought, sold, raped, and abused in a sickening cycle that is condoned by the caliphate.  Miraculously, She was able to finally escape to safety and tell her story.  Nadia has been featured in Time magazine and told her story in front of thousands including the United Nations Security Council.

These are the stories that never make it to the news in the United States. Stories that you can’t believe are true, but know they must be.  Stories that make you sick when reading them.  Stories that make you cry for the women that have gone through this and are going through this right now.  Stories that make you believe in human rights activism because someone told her story.  Someone wants it to stop.  That someone is Nadia Murad and her story is sad, yet incredible.  How this can happen in today/s society is truly bewildering.  Living in the United States can be easily taken for granted.  News stories are centered around rating points rather than what is going on in the world.  Nadia’s story inspires me to make a difference.  To help others.  To put an end to the violence and sex trafficking.

I hope if Nadia reads this review, she will know she has an ally a world away to fight for her.

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

It Takes One to Tango

tangoAuthor: Winifred M. Reilly

Publisher: Touchstone Hardcover

Release Date: April 7, 2017

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Marriage counseling is something that people usually do together in hopes of resolving issues and “fixing” what is broken in the marriage.  It is often used to improve communication, clear the air, and foster honesty and intimacy.  Ms. Reilly doesn’t dispute most of this, but she does believe that just one person can make all the difference.

Contrary to what many couples and counselors believe, she purports that if just one person changes his or her attitude and reaction to how the other acts, it will ultimately improve the entire marriage.  She has many case studies to support her theory, and most meaningful to her is her own.  She is the first to admit that she and her husband have had numerous arguments that ended in at least one of them wanting divorce, and after numerous counseling sessions, they both realized that they did not want that.  Instead, they took baby steps to improve their marriage by improving themselves.  For example, she is chronically late.  Her husband gets steamed over that and says she is inconsiderate.  Instead of complaining about it, he just patiently waits.  This in turn encourages her to work on being more punctual.  Conversely, he is, in her opinion, sloppy.  Instead of yelling at her husband to pick up his dirty clothes, Ms. Reilly doesn’t say a word.  Her lack of complaining fosters a resolve in him to pick up after himself.  Sure, they slip back into their old ways now and again, but they find that it is much easier to get along when they individually work to make things better.

There are many good tips in the book explaining how changing one’s own reactions to a partner changes the entire relationship, and while I am not sold on all of them, most make sense.  Moreover, there are many techniques that would easily apply in other relationship situations besides a marriage.  Working relationships, friendships, even relationships among family members, can benefit from each party taking a step back and being more cognizant of how he or she reacts to another person or situation.  Not everything works for every situation, but many tips here can easily work in common interpersonal relationships.

Having been married for over 20 years myself, I thought my husband and I had things pretty well worked out.  However, as I read the book, I could easily apply some of Ms. Reilly’s suggestions to our common areas where we get stuck.  Once I realized that I needed to identify what I wanted in a calm and rational tone, or that he needed to stay calm when I called him out on something, it worked a lot better.  Anyone can certainly benefit from Ms. Reilly’s observations.

I highly recommend this book for people who are in challenging relationships but don’t want to give up on them.  They will certainly find, if they give it a chance, something that will help.  I will not reveal all the tips in the book, but there are many that will make sense and be effective if given a good attempt.

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

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.