Voyager

Title: Voyager
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander, book 3
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Time-Travel
Publisher: Delta
Release Date: August 7th, 2001 

  “‘Do ye not understand?’ he said, in near desperation.
‘I would lay the world at your feet, Claire – and I have nothing to give ye!’

He honestly thought it mattered.”
– Diana Gabaldon, Voyager

Note: This is not a book I would recommend to YA audiences, as it is deals with mature content for adult readers.

Additional note: This post reviews the third book of the Outlander series. You may like to read the first two books in the series, Outlander and A Dragonfly in Amber, before reading this review.

It’s been two decades since Claire Randall/Fraser said goodbye to Jamie Fraser, two decades of raising their child, Brianna, back in Claire’s own time period, two decades believing Jamie to have perished at the famous Battle of Culloden in 18th century Scotland.

But when her years’ worth of research leads her to the realization that Jamie did in fact survive the horrific battle, Claire knows she must at least try to find him again. She now has to say goodbye to her adult daughter to find the only man she has ever really loved.

This book gives a beautiful example of timeless love as Claire and Jamie are finally  reunited after 20 years. They risk everything for yet another chance to be together, including their lives as they voyage halfway across the world on a quest to save their family. Romance, adventure, peril – Voyager has it all!

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Kingdom of Ash

Title: Kingdom of Ash
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass, 7/7
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release Date: October 23rd, 2018

Note: This post reviews the seventh and final book of the Throne of Glass series. You may like to read the first six books in the series, Throne of Glass, Crown of MidnightHeir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, and Tower of Dawn before reading this review.

Additional Note: Though this series is considered to be Young Adult, I consider the sexual content in Kingdom of Ash to be more New Adult than Young Adult. 

In this final installment of the Throne of Glass series, Aelin Galathynius, the true queen of Terrasen, fights to save all of Erilea from the ancient evil of the Valg. Even though she is held prisoner for months by Maeve, the Queen of the Fae and Aelin’s aunt, Aelin refuses to break. She stays strong for those she loves and to her cause to destroy Maeve and the Valg.

Meanwhile, her Fae mate, Rowan, fights ceaselessly to save Aelin from her living hell. The rest of her friends and allies, including Aedion, Lysandra, Chaol, Dorian, and Manon, all have their own battles to fight across Erilea. Unexpected friendships are formed and previous relationships solidified, while others are severed forever. In the end, all are united in one common cause – to destroy the Valg once and for all and seal the gate so that none can ever return. As they fight to save all of Erilea, it will cost Aelin and her friends everything. For some of them, their very lives.

This final book was the best of the series. Well done, Sarah J. Maas, for wrapping it up in such a satisfying way. You did your characters and your readers justice.

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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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