Body Love

Title: Body Love
Author: Kelly LeVeque
Genre: Health, Nonfiction, Nutrition, Self Help 
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: June 27th, 2017

“At its core, Body Love is about feeling empowered, not overwhelmed, by food and nutrition. It’s about learning simple tips and tricks to eat to satiety and naturally balance your hunger hormones, not fighting not to eat. It’s about ditching the food drama.”
Kelly LeVeque, Body Love

Health and wellness consultant Kelly LeVeque uses her extensive knowledge of nutrition and science to offer a sustainable alternative to frustrating diets. Her alternative focuses on what she likes to call the Fab Four: protein, fat, fiber, and greens. Protein, among other things, signals to your brain that you’re full; fat is necessary for brain functioning and helps manage hormones; fiber moves food through our digestive system and removes toxins from the body; greens are a natural source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

LeVeque teaches a science-driven approach: eat for satiety, elongate your blood sugar curve to burn fat, and be “hormone aware” to autocorrect if necessary. Not only does this approach help your body find (and maintain) its ideal weight, it’s doing so in a healthy, sustainable way. This book includes 88 Fab Four recipes (over 50 smoothie recipes!) to help you “live in balance, weight what you want, and free yourself form food drama forever.”

Body Love, a light, yet educational read, was exactly what I was looking for. Not just informational, but inspirational!

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Ogre Enchanted

Ogre Enchanted (Ella Enchanted, #0.5)


Title: Ogre Enchanted

Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Romance
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: October 16th, 2018

Ogre Enchanted is a prequel to Ella Enchanted, written two decades later. Lucinda the fairy, in her terrible judgement (as always), turns Evie, a young healer, into an ogre after turning down a marriage proposal from her best friend, Wormy. Evie only has 62 days to accept a marriage proposal and undo Lucinda’s curse – but will someone fall in love with her in ogre form?

Join Evie as she embarks on a quest to save herself from a terrible fate, experiencing friendship, heartache, and self-discovery along the way. Journey back into this beloved world created by Gail Carson Levine that has all the magic and charm of Ella Enchanted.

I enjoyed this new book by Gail Carson Levine, though I found the beginning to be a little on the slow side. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the rest of her books!

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Girl, Stop Apologizing

Title: Girl, Stop Apologizing
Author: Rachel Hollis
Genre: Inspirational, Lifestyle, Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: March 5th, 2019

“I can achieve anything if I’m willing to work for it. Not because I’m
especially gifted, 
but because I’m especially dedicated to improving
along the way.”
– Rachel Hollis, Girl, Stop Apologizing

If you read last week’s post, you already know how much I loved reading Girl, Wash Your Face. This new release by Rachel Hollis is even more amazing! Girl, Stop Apologizing: a shame-free plan for embracing and achieving your goals is a book targeted to women in their 20’s and 30’s, though I think all women, teens and up, can take something from it.

In Girl, Stop Apologizing, Hollis addresses excuses to let go of, behaviors to adopt, and skills to acquire so that you can turn your dreams into plans. She challenges you to walk out your calling without worrying about other peoples’ opinions of you. Whether you are single, a wife, a mom, an entrepreneur, or anything else, she drives home that there is no “right” way to do life.

I enjoyed Rachel’s direct approach and fresh perspective on work, goals, family, and faith. This book affirmed things I’ve thought for years: do not feel guilty for living your life in a way that’s different than what others expect; do not feel the need to justify your dreams, or apologize for having them in the first place; do not let others say who you can and cannot be. You get to decide what you are going to do with your life.

So chase those dreams, make those plans… and girl, stop apologizing!

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Girl, Wash Your Face

Title: Girl, Wash Your Face
Author: Rachel Hollis
Genre: Inspirational, Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: February 6th, 2018

“You have to decide that you care more about creating your magic
and pushing it out into the world than you do about how it will be received.”
– Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face

One of my goals as a book reviewer has been to use my library card more than my credit card. One book a week adds up to hundreds of dollars over the course of a year, even at Amazon’s unbeatable prices. So I borrow most of the time, and try to buy only the books I’m 100% sure to love.

So I picked up Girl, Wash Your Face at the library. Within a chapter or two, I already wished I owned the book so I could highlight my heart out. (Yes, I highlight my self-help books because I want to remember things that are, you know, helpful.) Now I’m planning to get the audio version instead so I can listen to it in the car when I need a good pep talk.

Written in a fresh, fun voice, Rachel Hollis confronts lie after lie that she used to believe about herself, with the goal of helping other women overcome those very same lies. Have you ever felt that you are not enough? Unlovable? A bad wife, or mom? So has she. Hollis gives personal examples of these kinds of struggles and practical advice on how to stop believing the lies about who you are so you can become who you were meant to be.

I cannot recommend Rachel Hollis and her books enough. Her target audience seems to be women in their 20’s and 30’s, but I think all women, teens and up, can get something from Girl, Wash Your Face. Get ready for some raw sass and fresh, faith-filled pep talk from a woman who can’t help building up other women.

And while you’re at it… Girl, wash your face!

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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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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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