Book Review: #BEMORE by Sandi Krakowski

Did you know that the hashtag symbol is actually called an octothorpe? #Trivia (and thanks to Renee L. for teaching us about that way back in January. I knew it would come in handy someday!).

I’m a hashtag-a-holic (octothorpe-a-holic?), and I have even been known to use them while actually talking to someone (#Awkward #Whatever #IfJustinTimberlakeAndJimmyFallonCanDoItThenSoCanI), but when I saw this book with a hashtag in the title, I was a little leery of reading it. It turns out that Sandi is a Facebook marketing expert and wants readers to use the hashtag #BEMORE whenever they write about the book on social media. She even includes a short, “tweetable” quote at the end of each chapter that readers can share with their friends and followers.

Image from Sandi’s website,

This would make a good devotional. The chapters are very short but they have a lot to them. Instead of reading this book straight through, it would be best to read one chapter a day and let everything sink in. It might make a good discussion group book, although with 77 secrets, groups would need to discuss more than one chapter per meeting!

Out of everything in the book, this quote on page 52 really stood out to me:

Keep your perspective most of the things we worry about are so big in our heads and then so, so tiny in reality.

Wow! How many times have we built things up in our heads only to have them turn out to be practically nothing?

I would recommend this book, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to read each day or week but want something thought-provoking. I will be donating this to my local library so all of you who are nearby, come check it out! (#Literally #LastOneIPromise)

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters!

Middle school was so awkward.

Clearly I made it through middle school without experiencing that awkward phase. Clearly.

Ahem. As I was saying, middle school was awkward. You’re going through lots of changes, thrown into a bigger environment with more people, and you have tougher classes. That’s just the tip of the iceberg too. I shudder to think about all of the social pressure in middle school. You’ve got to make sure that you have a good group of friends and that you don’t embarrass yourself. No wonder tweens can have such attitudes sometimes! 😉

It’s been a few years since I’ve been in middle school, so I had blocked out forgotten some of the aspects of middle school. If I really want to remember those years, I have some diaries from that time period, but I would rather not revisit those! Thankfully, I don’t have to reread my old diaries to relive middle school because I can read book one of the Desperate Diva Diaries Series called Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters! 

Written by Angie Spady and illustrated by Channing Everidge, the book follows the story of sixth grader Catie Conrad. Catie’s dad gave her a journal, which she did NOT want at all, but decides to use as a prayer journal and place to put her fashion sketches since she dreams of becoming a famous fashion designer. Throughout the book, readers meet Catie’s family (including her brother’s pet skunk, Rosey), Catie’s best friend Sophie, crush Josh, and the middle school mean girl, Miranda. We get to read about Catie’s embarrassing moments, daily struggles, and her journey as she grows in faith, especially after a family mission trip to a reservation in Arizona.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There were a few times that I felt like Catie’s “voice” didn’t sound like a sixth grader, but for the most part, I found all of the characters believable and easy to relate to. I felt like there were a lot of good messages in the book too, particularly concerning friendship, empathy, and staying focused on God. If you have a tween daughter, then I would definitely recommend this book to her. I’m donating my copy to my local library, so if you live in my area and would like to read this book, check it out!

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

A review of Lead by Morning: 365 Days of the Present Principle

Mornings can be hectic. It often seems like there’s not enough time to do everything you need to, much less adding in “extra” things like quiet time, reflection, and exercise. Claire Diaz-Ortiz has come up with a simple acronym and a plan to help with that very problem. Her PRESENT Principle contains ideas on how to make the most of your morning, through prayer, focused reading, scheduling, and other habits to build upon. The book also contains guided meditations for every day of the year for those who need a bit of a jump start on the principle.

While this is a great idea in theory, I’ve found myself having trouble doing these things on top of an already hectic morning. Perhaps I need to go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier. I know I need to do more planning at night also, but honestly, a seven step routine on top of normal morning busyness seems like a lot to me. I did have some good takeaways from the book and will be attempting to add some of these things to my own morning routine, but I think this principle is better suited to those who have a good amount of time to devote to their morning routines (so I guess I’ll look at it when I retire…ha…)

Disclosure: I received a review copy of Lead by Morning, but all opinions are entirely my own!

A Review of Packing Light

Have you ever just felt meh? There’s not necessarily anything wrong; in fact, if you were to describe your life to someone, you’d realize just how blessed you were. But despite that, you just feel like you’re coasting through life, and you know there has to be something more.

Allison (Ally) Vesterfelt had that same feeling. Her life in Portland, Oregon was perfectly fine; she had a nice roommate who she got along with, a job she enjoyed, and hobbies and friends that made her happy…or so she thought.

When Ally confessed to her friend Sharaya that she had always wanted to take a road trip and visit all 50 states, Sharaya came up with counterarguments to every objection that she had for why it wasn’t a wise idea.

What would happen to Ally’s routine life when she pared it down to the basics and hit the road? How would she learn to shed her literal and metaphorical baggage in order to live a fuller life and find out who she really was? Most importantly, what would Ally do when she got home and had to return to a “normal” life?

Packing Light came into my life at the perfect time. I’ve been feeling a little blah lately, and I’ve been in need of a little shaking up. Although I can’t take a cross-country journey like Ally and Sharaya, I can get rid of the physical and spiritual junk that’s holding me back from packing light and living a fuller life.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of Packing Light, but all opinions are entirely my own!

A Review of The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby by Erin MacPherson

I’ll start this out by reiterating this in bold, italicized, underlined print.

I am not pregnant.

Okay, now that my husband is relieved and my grandma is disappointed, I can continue.

I chose this book because although I’m not expecting a baby right now, we do plan to have children within the next 3ish years, so I thought it would be interesting to read it and save it for when that time comes. After reading it, interesting is definitely not the first word that comes to mind. Instead, I now think of pregnancy and giving birth as terrifying. Kidding, kidding of course (but only somewhat). MacPherson does a wonderful job of breaking down symptoms that most women will experience during each trimester of their pregnancies, but she doesn’t sugar coat anything, which is great and horrifying all at once!

MacPherson is an expert on pregnancies, having had three children herself. Her straightforward, humorous, friendly tone is reassuring and comforting, especially when conveying information that may make pregnant women (or future pregnant women) wonder why they ever decided to make such a life changing decision. She also sprinkles “Time Out for Mom” sections throughout the book that allow women to stop and reflect upon the miraculous journey that they are on through Scripture and prayer. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is planning to become pregnant or is currently pregnant and wants the inside scoop on what their body is going through!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”