Blog Tour · Book Reviews · Memoirs · Nonfiction

Book Tour and Review of ‘Breathe Again: Choosing to Believe There’s More When Life Has Left You Broken’ by Stacy Henagan

Click HERE to go to IG post & give it a LIKE.

Thank you @thomasnelson & @tlcbooktours for my gifted copy of ‘Breathe Again: Choosing to Believe There’s More When Life Has Left You Broken‘ by Stacy Henagan! (pub 9/22)

What Do You Do When It Seems God Hasn’t Come Through for You?

When the miracle-working God whom Pastor Stacy Henagan loved and served did not answer the prayers on behalf of her terminally ill one-year-old daughter as expected, she was left crushed with grief and struggling to understand.

How could a loving God allow this to happen?

What do you do when it seems God has let you down?

Is God trustworthy?

Rather than choosing to remain in overwhelming pain and doubt, Stacy emerged with a much greater belief that God is good and trustworthy, even when we don’t think His plans make sense.

Breathe Again‘ is a honest, deeply moving & raw reflection on experiencing the devastating sense of loss, grief & pain of losing a child to a terminal illness. When we are feeling lost & broken, vulnerable & grief stricken, sometimes letting go of someone we love & giving in to our faith in something greater can be what helps us to get through life’s worst trials & tribulations we experience as human beings.

As a parent of five, Stacy’s story touched my heart & soul & nearly everyone who reads this book will find a way to relate to it in one way or another. You don’t have to be a parent or even a religious person to be profoundly touched by this heart-breaking, yet redeeming, story. It’s beautiful, well-written, genuine & quite thought-provoking.

Click HERE to add ‘Breathe Again’ to your Goodreads lists.

Click HERE to order the book from Thomas Nelson publishing.

Click HERE to visit Stacy Henagan on Instagram.

Click HERE to visit my post on Instagram & give a LIKE (please & thank you!)

About the author:

Stacy Henagan is copastor of Keypoint Church in northwest Arkansas, a multicampus church she founded with her husband, Casey. Stacy also hosts an annual women’s conference and speaks at other events in the United States and overseas. Stacy and Casey have four children: Haven, who is waiting for them in heaven, and Holland, Hayes, and Hudson.

Blog Tour · Book Reviews · Nonfiction

Book Tour kick off for ‘Clouds: A Memoir’ by Laura Sobiech featuring the Disney+ movie cover

Thank You @thomasnelson & @tlcbooktours for my gifted copy of ‘Clouds: A Memoir‘ by Laura Sobiech & for letting me kick off the TLC Book Tour of this beautiful book! (Click HERE to go to my Instagram post & show it some love & support with a LIKE, maybe a Share or a Save.)

Originally published as ‘Fly a Little Higher in 2014 & now updated & revised to coincide with the film release of ‘Clouds’ (Disney+), Laura Sobiech tells the amazing, true story behind the song & the movie.

“Okay, Lord, you can have him. But if he must die, I want it to be for something big. I want someone’s life to be changed forever.” This is what Laura Sobiech prayed when she found out her 17-year-old son had only one year to live. With this desperate prayer, she released her son to God’s will.

At that point, Zach Sobiech was just another teenager battling cancer. When his mother told him to think about writing goodbye letters to family & friends, he decided instead to write songs. One of them, “Clouds,” captured hearts & changed lives, making him an international sensation.

(Click HERE to see Zach Sobiech sing ‘Clouds‘)

This story is a testament to what can happen when you live as if each day might be your last. It’s a story about the human spirit. It shows how God used a dying boy from a small town in Minnesota to touch the hearts of millions—including top executives in the entertainment industry, major music artists, news anchors, talk show hosts, actors, priests & pastors, & schoolchildren across the globe. And above all, it’s an example of the amazing things that happen when someone shares the most precious thing he has—himself.

“I’m not a musician; I’m just a filmmaker, and my prayer is that you get an opportunity—both through the reading of this beautiful book and the watching of our film based on it—to experience what I will fail to put into words: the magic and inspiration of Zachary David Sobiech.”

—Justin Baldoni, filmmaker and director of Clouds

The pain of losing a child is one I hope to never experience 1st hand, but last year my 2 oldest sons experienced the loss of their younger brother, S.W. (my ex-husbands son) to cancer. He was 20 & had been fighting cancer since he was 19. One year, endless treatments & hospitals, & then he was gone…& it all started w/ a backache. Much like Zach Sobiech, S.W. touched the hearts of everyone he encountered & was a remarkable human being.

Clouds‘ is so gripping, it left me absolutely breathless! I challenge anyone to read this book & not shed a single tear, sad ones or happy ones, or to feel their hearts fill w/ positivity & hopefulness as they read about the amazing young man who was Zach Sobiech. The courage & grace that he demonstrated while knowing he had only a year of his very young life left to live was just astounding, & the song he wrote, ‘Clouds‘, has been stuck in my head on repeat since I first heard it. The Disney+ adaptation comes out on 10/16, but I encourage you to read this absolutely moving, deeply compelling, inspiring & powerful memoir written by Zach’s mother. I seriously can’t recommend it enough!

Click HERE to visit the Fly A Little Higher website & read a chapter of the book.
Click HERE to add ‘Clouds’ to your Goodreads lists.
Click HERE to visit the Thomas Nelson publishing page for ‘Clouds’, listen to a sample of the audiobook. There are also links for ordering the book. The original version is already available & the new, updated, Disney+ cover version ‘Clouds’ publishes on 10/13.
Click HERE to visit my Instagram page & give this post a LIKE there to show the publisher, author (& ME) your support.
Click HERE to go to the hashtag #Clouds on Instagram & see pics from the movie & it’s actors.
Click HERE to see a trailer of the upcoming movie from Disney+.

In 2009 Laura Sobiech was living a very average life. She was married to her husband, Rob, for 20 yrs, had 4 children & was working 2 part-time jobs & volunteering as a firefighter/EMT at her local fire department.
Then, on a gloomy day in Nov 2009, everything changed. Her 14-yr-old son, Zach, was diagnosed w/ osteosarcoma, a rare form of pediatric bone cancer. As Zach battled cancer, Laura blogged about it on their Caring Bridge website.
In May 2012 Zach learned he had only a year to live &, as a way to say “goodbye” to his family & friends, he wrote a beautiful song called “Clouds.” The song touched not only family & friends, but through the help of a team of people who believed in Zach’s music & message, it reached millions of people across the globe.
In May 2013 a documentary called ‘My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech’ was released on the Soul Pancake YouTube channel. The video went viral & reached over 12.3 million people within months of it’s release. And the numbers continue to grow. The week of Zach’s death, on May 20, 2013, his song reached #1 on iTunes & made it’s way up Billboard’s Top 100 chart, debuting at #26, & topping the Rock Digital Downloads at #1.
Laura’s memoir, ‘Fly A Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom’s Small Prayer in a Big Way’, is about her family’s amazing, joyful & heartbreaking journey with Zach through cancer & his incredible last year of life.
Learn more about Laura, Zach and the book at flyalittlehigher.com. #flyhigher

(I dedicate this blog post to Zach Sobiech’s family & also to my son’s brother, S.W….rest peacefully in Heaven…

Blog Tour · Nonfiction

Blog Tour for “The Opposite of Certainty: Fear, Faith and Life In Between” by Janine Urbaniak Reid

Thank you @wpublishing @thomasnelson @janineurbanurbaniakreid & @tlcbooktours for my gifted copy of “The Opposite of Certainty” which published on May 12th.

What happens when we can no longer pretend that the ground underfoot is bedrock and the sky above predictable?

All Janine Urbaniak Reid ever wanted was for everyone she loved to be okay so she might relax and maybe be happy. Her life strategy was simple: do everything right. This included trying to be the perfect mother to her three kids so they would never experience the kind of pain she pretended not to feel growing up. What she didn’t expect was the chaos of an out-of-control life that begins when her young son’s hand begins to shake.

The Opposite of Certainty is the story of Janine’s reluctant journey beyond easy answers and platitudes. She searches for a source of strength bigger than her circumstances, only to have her circumstances become even thornier with her own crisis. Drawn deeply and against her will into herself, and into the eternal questions we all ask, she discovers hidden reserves of strength, humor, and a no-matter-what faith that looks nothing like she thought it would. 

Beautifully written and deeply hopeful, Janine shows us how can we come through impossible times, transformed and yet more ourselves than we’d ever allowed ourselves to be.

Click HERE to add this to your Goodreads TBR

I found this story utterly compelling, touching, & heartbreaking, but also very heartwarming, uplifting, & inspiring. I have a family member who went through something similar with her son many years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer & she was raising 5 kids. The sleeplessness coupled with daily fatigue, battles with insurance companies & what they will or won’t cover, the daily uncertainty of what each new day will bring. Her son, just like Janine’s, was eventually cured, but the stress of it all really took a toll on my family member’s own health.

“The Opposite of Uncertainty” is a memoir about one mother’s deeply emotional & personal journey through motherhood, letting go of perfectionism & struggling with feelings of hopelessness & overwhelming fear after her son is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Advocating for a proper diagnosis & treatment for him while navigating the healthcare system, Janine details the ups & downs she went through daily trying to get her son the care he needed & while trying to be what she considered a perfect wife & mother.

I couldn’t put this book down. It just resonated with me & spoke to my very soul, not to mention that I, too, have a son named Mason, who has autism & has also given us some pretty frightening health scares in his lifetime. This book also reminds me of the old saying, “God only gives us what we can handle.” Sometimes all the little things that are overwhelming & emotionally exhausting you really are just that…little things, & we get reminded of that when the big things come at us out of nowhere to give us that reality check. “The Opposite of Certainty” is more than just a medical memoir. It will also lift your spirits & help you learn to live in the present, not the past or future, & be mindful about how much time & energy you are really wasting on the trivial aspects of your existence.

This book is so well written & articulated, you will want to reread it as soon as you finish it! Beautiful, inspirational & motivational, this book is already available for purchase. You can also read a sneak-peek of the book at the author’s website, JanineUrbaniakReid.com. You can also use BookStoreLink to find this book & others at a local independent bookstore. Many of them offer curbside pick up, home delivery or e-commerce sales.

Reviews from other authors:

‘The diagnosis of life-threatening illness is one of the most terrifying challenges any family or individual can face. Anger, resentment, fear, and loneliness rise up ready to do battle with hope, and all are made more powerful by love. The Opposite of Certainty is a deeply personal memoir about such a journey, told with brutal honesty and so much grace it will touch your soul.’ –Jacqueline Winspear, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Journey to Munich, A Dangerous Place, Leaving Everything Most Loved, and nine other novels featuring Maisie Dobbs

‘A beautiful sucker punch, like life. When the ground crumbles beneath your hopes, big dreams, and great expectations, what do you stand on and for? Where do you find the strength to keep going? You find it in this gem of a book.’ –Ron Fournier, New York Times bestselling author of Love That Boy

‘Somedays it’s doughnuts and hot coffee. Other days it’s gurneys and scans. That’s true of almost every full life. Here’s the good news: observant and warm, the writing of Janine Urbaniak Reid is the finest company on both kinds of days.’ –Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me More and The Middle Place

About the Author

Janine Urbaniak Reid was born in Chicago and grew up in California. Before she began raising a family and then writing full-time, she was vice president of a San Francisco public relations firm.

Janine has been published in the Washington PostChicago Tribune, and San Francisco Chronicle and is widely syndicated. Hoping to bring humanity into the healthcare discussion by sharing her experience as a mother of a son with a brain tumor, she penned a piece for the Post that went viral. She has been interviewed on national news networks and continues her work as a spokeswoman for healthcare justice.

Janine writes about her imperfect life, what connects us, and addresses the question of what it means to love fiercely in a sometimes dangerous and always uncertain world.

Janine is a graduate of the University of California at San Diego and lives in Northern California with her family and a motley assortment of pets. She attends St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City: all are welcome.

For more information, please visit JanineUrbaniakReid.com. You can also connect with Janine at Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram.

Book Reviews

Book Review: “Everything is Under Control” by Phyllis Grant

Click HERE to give my IG post some LIKE love!

Thank you @fsgbooks for my gifted copy of the new release, ‘Everything is Under Control‘! (pub date 4/21).

“What a beautiful, rich, & poetic memoir this is. Phyllis Grant writes of longing, suffering, celebration, family, & food with such delicate power. Like the best chefs, she knows how to make a masterpiece from a few simple ingredients: truth, taste, poignancy, & love. This is a wonderful book.”–Elizabeth Gilbert, author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’.

From Amazon

Phyllis Grant’s ‘Everything Is Under Control‘ is a memoir about appetite–as it comes, goes, & refocuses its object of desire. With sparse, affecting prose, & an unsparing eye toward her, & her environment’s, darkest corners, Grant’s story follows the sometimes smooth, sometimes jagged, always revealing contours of her life: from her days as a dancer struggling to find her place at Juilliard, to her experiences in & out of four-star kitchens in New York City, to falling in love with her future husband & leaving the city after 9/11 for California where her children are born. All the while, a sense of longing roils in each stage as she moves through the headspace of a young woman longing to be sustained by a city, to a mother now sustaining a family herself.

Written with the raw transparency of a diarist, ‘Everything Is Under Control’ is an unputdownable series of vignettes followed by tried-and-true recipes from Grant’s table–a heartrending yet unsentimental portrait of the highs & lows of young adulthood, motherhood, & a life in the kitchen.

From Amazon

This is a short book, like 200ish pages, & 20+ of them are recipes. But I will tell you this, I felt like I read a much lengthier novel (in a good way) after I finished this book (in like 1.5 hours) & I found myself wanting to know more about this person. When I first started the book I wasn’t too sure about the writing style & but then it grew on me as I felt myself drawn into Phyllis Grant’s life.

Everything is Under Control” is written in powerful vignettes, kind of diary style without specific dates. Grant takes us on a grounding, eye-opening, raw, & uninhibited journey through her life, introduces us to some amazing sounding food along the way, & poetically describes what it’s like to go through post-partum depression & dysphoria, an eating disorder, an abortion, & more. Yes, there are some heavy subjects in this beautiful book, but Grant writes about these subjects with masterful, unflinching honesty.

From Amazon

I encourage you to read this book for yourself & see why sometimes short can be more than just sweet. The recipes at the back of the book all sound wonderful & I am definitely going to try making a few. Which brings me to my favorite quote in the entire book, that truly reasonated with me:.”When I cook, I am calm. And confident. Baking works. You just follow the rules. There is comfort in logic.”

Be sure to use BookStoreLink to find this book at an independent bookseller. Many have curbside pick-up, home delivery & e-commerce sites. They need our sales now more than ever!

And as always…stay home, stay safe, stay sane. Now go wash your hands!

(and PS….don’t forget to enter to win TWO true-crime books on my Instagram page. Click HERE to go there now!

Blog Tour · Book Reviews

Blog Tour and Book Review for “My Name is Tani…And I Believe in Miracles” by Tanitoluwa Adewumi

Click HERE to give the Instagram post a LIKE

Thank you @tlcbooktours & @thomasnelson for my gifted copy of “My Name is Tani...& I Believe in Miracles: The Amazing True Story of One Boy’s Journey From Refugee to Chess Champion”!

Tani Adewumi didn’t know what Boko Haram was or why they had threatened his family. All he knew was that when his parents said the family was going to America, Tani thought it was the start of a great adventure rather than an escape. In truth, his family’s journey to the United States was nothing short of miraculous—& the miracles were just beginning.

Tani’s father, Kayode, became a dishwasher & Uber driver while Tani’s mother, Oluwatoyin, cleaned buildings, while the family lived in a homeless shelter. Eight-year-old Tani jumped into his new life with courage & perseverance—& an unusual mind for chess.

Tanitoluwa Adewumi

After joining the chess club in his public school, Tani practiced his game for hours in the evenings at the shelter. Then he began competing in the ultra-exclusive chess clubs of New York City. And winning—again & again. And then, less than a year after he learned to play, Tani won the New York State chess championship.

In “My Name Is Tani . . . and I Believe in Miracles, Tani & his parents tell us their incredible true story of sacrificing everything for family, living with nothing but hope, & then sharing generously all they received to discover the greatest riches of all. Tani’s triumphant spirit reminds us of the power of kindness & the beauty of unity as we watch for the next miracle to begin.

Click HERE to add it to your Goodreads list

What an amazing story! (And to think, I have no CLUE how to play chess. Seriously, not even a little. I know there are like rooks & pawns & other pieces, but that’s IT. Sad, I know. I can play checkers though!)

“I don’t know what I’m going to be. My dad says that’s okay. But I do know this much. I believe it miracles.”-Tani Adewumi (quoted from the book)

This boy is such an amazing young man! A true inspiration! This story is both impressive & faith-affirming, but the stories about the Boko Haram are also terrifying. (Read more about that group on Google! Crazy stuff, man!).

The young readers addition of the book is also available

The book is narrated by both Tani & his parents & is divided into 5 parts. It’s a quick read with a small section of color photos. A truly heart-warming, awe-inspiring, & captivating novel about a fascinating young man, & how a $5 gift turned out to be a life-changing miracle for him & his family.

This book is now available (released on 4/14) and you can use BookStoreLink to find it at a local, independent bookseller near you.

PS…I have a pretty awesome GIVEAWAY going on now on my Instagram. Click HERE to go to that post now. And as always, stay home, stay safe, stay sane. Now go wash your hands! (and excuse me while I go download an online chess game…)