The Power of Moments

Title: The Power of Moments
Author: Chip Heath & Dan Heath
Genre: Business, Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017

“Some entrepreneurs win, some entrepreneurs lose. What they share is a willingness to put themselves in a situation where they can fail.”
– 
Chip Heath & Dan Heath, The Power of Moments

This book was recommended to me by my brother-in-law upon starting my organizing business (www.spruceupllc.com), and now I get to recommend it to you! The Power of Moments, however, is not just for business owners or entrepreneurs. It’s for anyone wanting to make the most of life.

The Heath brothers talk about defining moments – “meaningful experiences that stand out in our memory.” Many defining moments “happen” to us, but in many cases, we can create them, instead of just waiting for them. There are 4 elements that create defining moments:

elevation
Defining moments rise above the everyday.

insight
Defining moments rewire our understanding of ourselves or the world.

pride
Defining moments capture us at our best.

connection
Defining moments are social – we share them with others.

Something that stood out to me under “insight” was this: “You can’t appreciate the solution until you appreciate the problem.” (Why would people hire me to organize their home if they aren’t first convinced of their need for help?)

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Lightly

Title: Lightly
Author: Francine Jay
Genre: Nonfiction, Lifestyle, Minimalism, Self Help
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: February 26th, 2019

I first met Francine Jay in the pages of her book, The Joy of Less. I have to say that Lightly has risen to the top of my favorite books in this genre. I felt my soul give a resounding yes to her words, page after page. This book resonated with me so much that I wish I could have written it myself! Even if you don’t identify yourself with minimalism, I believe there is something for everyone in this book.

As the subtitle implies, Lightly gives you tips on “how to live a simple, serene, & stress-free life” (oxford comma added because oxford commas are awesome). Jay addresses the heaviness of life that we all live with, and suggests a lighter way to go through life.

lighten your stuff
Eliminating the excess so that you can curate your things to match your needs.

lighten your step
Adopting some eco-friendly habits in order to tread lightly on the earth.

lighten your stress
Casting off trivial tasks and digital distractions to focus on what really matters.

lighten your spirit
Lifting the weights from your heart to move through life with more mindfulness.

Jay concludes, “If more people lightened their stuff, we’d have less debt and less pressure to keep up with the Joneses. If more people lightened their step, we’d have less waste, less pollution, and a lovelier planet. If more people lightened their stress, we’d have a happier, healthier, less harried society. If more people lightened their spirits, we’d realize we’re all connected together in compassion and cooperation.” That sounds like the kind of life I want to live. What about you?

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The Magnolia Story

Title: The Magnolia Story
Authors: Chip and Joanna Gaines
Genre: Autobiography, Biography, Lifestyle, Nonfiction 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: October 18th, 2016

Chip and Joanna Gaines – household names, all thanks to their hit HGTV show, Fixer Upper. Then you have Magnolia Market (their store, both online and in Waco, TX), Magnolia Table (an old diner recently renovated), and did you hear that their very own Magnolia Network is underway on the Discovery channel?

It seems that everything the Gaines touch turns to gold. (You only need to watch one episode of Fixer Upper to know what I mean.)

But it wasn’t always like this for them. Chip and Joanna have had their struggles just like the rest of us (well, maybe not just like… but struggles nonetheless). They know how it feels to be broke, to have overwhelming debt, to wonder how it’s all going to work out. (Spoiler: it sure seems like it all worked out.)

One of the things that stood out to me in this autobiography is their unwavering faith in God. They don’t shy away from this part of their lives, and they definitely don’t forget to give him the credit for making Magnolia what it is today. Of course, they had to do their fair share of hard work, but they remained faithful to the callings of God for their family.

Even though their story inspires me as a budding entrepreneur, their trust in God and their priority to their beautiful family is actually what inspired me most. This is an easy, must-read if you are at all interested in Fixer Upper and the Gaines’ family!

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Spark Joy


Title: Spark Joy
Author: Marie Kondo
Genre: Nonfiction, Lifestyle, Minimalism, Self Help
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Release Date: January 5th, 2016

Note: Spark Joy is a companion to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It is “an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up.” I recommend reading her first book before reading this. 

If you have read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and are wanting more tips and techniques for your home, Spark Joy is for you. Marie begins by sharing her master tips, “Honing your sensitivity to joy,” “How to fill your home with joy,” and “Everything you need to know about storing joyfully.” The premise of this book, like her first book, is surrounding yourself only with things that bring you joy, and discarding the rest with gratitude.

The second part of the book is titled “The tidying encyclopedia,” which consists of chapters dedicated to tidying clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous), and sentimental items. I really enjoyed all of the illustrations she used for these categories. They were cute and helpful visuals to help inspire the organizational process.

The last part of this book, “Life-changing magic,” is all about putting into practice the things you have just read. She walks you through “A home that sparks joy,” spending time on every area of the home, and closes with “The changes that come when you’re done,” which include all the amazing benefits that follow putting your home in order.

I read this book in one day, as I did with her first book. It is the kind of book I love to read that gives me inspiration and motivation to make my home as enjoyable to live in as I possibly can.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author: J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter, 7/7
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, MG, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: July 21st, 2007

Note: This post reviews the seventh book of the Harry Potter series. You may like to read the first six books in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince before reading this review.

It is up to Harry, with the help of his best friends Ron and Hermione, to track down the rest of the Horcruxes if there is any hope of defeating Voldemort. Along the way, they learn the truth to the children’s story of the Deathly Hallows – the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Cloak of Invisibility. It is said that the one who possesses all three artifacts becomes the Master of Death.

Voldemort and his Death Eaters attack Hogwarts, and a great wizarding battle commences. Harry races against time to track down the final Horcruxes before it’s too late. In the end, he does whatever it takes to defeat Voldemort and save Hogwarts – even if it means not saving himself.

This is my favorite book of the entire series! I loved seeing how Rowling tied everything together so masterfully.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Author: J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter, 6/7
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, MG, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: July 16th, 2005

Note: This post reviews the sixth book of the Harry Potter series. You may like to read the first five books in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix before reading this review.

After the events in the previous book, the wizarding world is torn in two: those who support Voldemort’s return, and those who will do whatever it takes to see him destroyed. In the midst of another year at Hogwarts, Harry stumbles across a potions book that belonged to the mysterious half-blood prince. This book helps Harry pass his class, and also beckons him to learn more… Who is the half-blood prince?

Dumbledore brings an odd choice of a teacher back to Hogwarts. Harry later learns why Professor Slughorn has returned – to provide insight on the boy Tom Riddle, before he became Lord Voldemort. Dumbledore and Harry uncover the truth together, and begin the hunt for the Horcruxes, objects that contain part of wizard’s soul after being split through murder. As they are forced to face the evil of Voldemort firsthand, sacrifices must be made – but once again, not everything is as it seems.

I really enjoyed this book. It feels like the beginning of the end, as much of this book sets the stage for the next (and final) book of the series.

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Title: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Author: J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter, 5/7
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, MG, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: June 21st, 2003

Note: This post reviews the fifth book of the Harry Potter series. You may like to read the first four books in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, before reading this review.

This fifth book of the series feels darker, graver than the previous ones. After the tragic events and the end of the fourth book, we are forced to accept that He Who Must Not be Named has come back, though most in the wizarding world blindly refuse to acknowledge his return. Since their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher does nothing whatsoever to help them learn spells to protect themselves, Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, decide to take matters into their own hands. Together, they form a secret training group known as Dumbledore’s Army.

He Who Must Not be Named has returned, with the help and full support of his Death Eaters. The Order of the Phoenix – a group of good wizards who are aware of the enemy – does everything they can to fight Voldemort. But will it be enough to stop him, even with some help from Dumbledore’s Army?

The reason I gave this book a 4 out of 5 is because it’s a little tough to get through, at least compared to the rest of the series. The characters are whiny and overly-dramatic, which makes it a bit less enjoyable of a read than the other books.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter, 4/7
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, MG, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: July 8th, 2000

Note: This post reviews the fourth book of the Harry Potter series. You may like to read the first three books in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, before reading this review.

During Harry’s fourth year, Hogwarts is hosting a mysterious and exciting event – the Triwizard Tournament. The schools competing in this prestigious competition are Durmstrang Institute, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, and (of course) Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each school is represented by one student, whose name is chosen from the Goblet of Fire.

But instead of three champions, four are selected, and Harry, underage though he be, participates in the Triwizard Tournament. The Triwizard Tournament commences, and the four champions face many dangers. As the tournament progresses, Harry begins to suspect that there is more going on than just fun and games. There is a darkness present, a darkness that waits to reveal itself until the grand finalé. It is Harry who must face this evil, as he is the only one who truly can.

This is such a fun book of the series! Placed right in the middle, it has elements of lighthearted fun, even as the stakes are raised between Harry and Voldemort.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter, 3/7
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, MG, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: July 8th, 1999

Note: This post reviews the third book of the Harry Potter series. You may like to read the first two books in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, before reading this review.

Like his first two years, Harry’s third year at Hogwarts promises to be full of danger and excitement. Sirius Black, a dangerous murderer, has escaped from Azkaban, the most secure prison of the wizarding world. And it seems that he is after Harry! Dementors – the Azkaban guards with the power to fill people with despair – appear at the school in search of Sirius. Harry is deeply affected by their presence and works with Professor Lupin, a close friend of his parents, to master the difficult Patronus charm to ward off the Dementors.

Harry learns that not everything is as it seems, both within Hogwarts and without. With the help of a time-turner, he has the chance to go back in time and save more than one life from being unjustly executed, discovering things about himself and his parents along the way.

I absolutely love this book of the series! The time-travel story element is fun and fascinating, as all time-travel should be.

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