153: Marketing God

Marketing God by Donna A. Heckler

I received an advance copy of this since I work for the publisher! I LOVED it. There were so many great nuggets of information that I want to share with my parishes for work.

Marketing isn’t just for big companies trying to make a million dollars a year. It’s for all of us. The ways in which we market our parishes, the Gospel, and the Love of God are important and significant.

This book should be required reading for anyone who does a parish bulletin, updates a website, or thinks about promoting a parish event. Donna does a great job outlining the importance not only of the digital and print pieces an organization produces, but how they stay “on brand” otherwise as well. Like, answering the phone!!


119: 99 Percent Mine

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

I started 99 Percent Mine last night a little before 9 and stayed up until 1am because I couldn’t get enough. I went to bed with about 40 pages to go because, well, it was 1am and I had to work today. Throughout the day I snuck in snippets of 5 to 10 pages while my tea boiled, my lunch baked, and my pages updated.

It’s a typical romance story. Boy and Girl are fighting but secretly in love with each other, boy renovates house for girl and her twin brother, tight quarters help boy and girl realize they don’t actually dislike one another but have been in love for ever, boy and girl get together. I’m not revealing anything, not really – this is how romance novels go. There’s a HEA (Happily Ever After) and some steamy parts to pass by, but all in all a delightful read.

This was just what I needed to get out of my weird Poldark related reading slump. I love a book that I can devour in just a few hours and Sally Thorne writes those kinds of books! A solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ because it got me out of my slump, but it’s not amazing literary writing or anything.

109: Still Alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

This book is absolutely, stunningly beautiful! A friend read this on vacation in just a few days and said “please read this so we can talk about it!” I’m so glad I took her copy home since it isn’t due for a few weeks.

It’s the story of a woman who finds out at 50 that she has early-on-set Alzheimer’s. The story is from her narrative perspective as she begins losing her cognitive function. I found myself tearing up over and over again. Years ago I read Karen Kingsbury’s depiction of a caregiver at a home for patients with Alzheimer’s, but aside from that I haven’t read many stories with this topic.

Go out right now and put this book on hold or purchase it from amazon because it’s that amazing!!

Still Alice by Lisa Genova earns every last star: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

107: Saints for All Occasions

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

This was the first book read on vacation, and I loved it. Two women immigrate from Ireland as children, drama ensues, and one becomes a mom of four and the other one a cloistered nun. It’s a story of family drama, lost loved ones, and the Catholic Church.

I thought they dealt well with scandals and priest drama throughout, which can always be a tricky subject in fiction (and in life, if we’re being honest).

The only thing wrong with the book, in my opinion, is that it ends way to early. I want to know more about how Nora’s children react to the news of their aunt, how Nora and Mother Cecilia figure out how to have a relationship after 50 years of separation, and what comes next for Maeve and the yet to be conceived little child of the International Archeologist.

There were so many great lines in this book. So many things that felt like ‘inside Catholic baseball’ that you might not get if you haven’t been raised in the Church. I was here for all of it. I want a second book … and also my own box of ‘saints for all occasions.’


106: Fitness Junkie

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

As I read this book, Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza, I couldn’t help but feel caught up in the mess that is my own fitness journey. The book opens with Janey and Beau at brunch where she’s enjoying a delicious meal and he (and the rest of the restaurant) are just Instagramming their food because it’s so pretty. He kicks her out of the company for eating a bruffin (which sounds delicious) and ‘getting fat.’

The story behind that is a little more convoluted than that, but you get the gist. She doesn’t look the same at 40 as she did at 18. So he says “take 3 months off to get yourself in shape.”

Then Janey goes through the most ridiculous ‘wellth’ classes, foods (like eating clay), juices, lifestyle changes, etc. Does she lose the weight? Yes. Does she also lose a bit of herself? Sure does.

The authors really showcase the most ridiculous aspects of the wellness industry. The industry that capitalizes on what women think about themselves. As I’m reading through the book, I’m thinking, “hmmm, maybe that would work for me … should I start drinking only juice?”

No. That’s not really healthy. Health isn’t measured by the number on the scale alone, sometimes the smaller you are the more unhealthy you are. The truth is that we all have different body types, genetic make-ups, and personal histories. Vegetables are healthier than desserts … but chocolate isn’t evil.

Like most things in life, food is about moderation – and so is exercising.

Janey’s friend helps her find all of these crazy things and when she’s in the hospital at the end of the book her friend says “You know … I think it’s a lie that all women want to be skinny. I think we just want to be told it’s okay to look the way we look.”



105: Waiting for Tom Hanks

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

Not everyone loves a good rom-com … but I sure do. I saw this on Annie Jones’ Instagram way back in February and pre-ordered it, then Anne Bogel put it on her summer reading list. When it came in last week I couldn’t wait to get started.

Travel days are long and weary – but also the time when I can devour books on planes, in airports, while dining alone, and hanging out in hotel rooms before meetings. All things I did today – I sat and drank 3 extra glasses of iced tea at lunch so I could read more chapters.

Annie (the main character in the book – weird since an Annie and an Anne recommended this to me) loves rom-coms and knows them all frontwards and backwards. I was here for all of it. I couldn’t get enough.

Then I wanted to kinda kill her on page 213, I mean … why didn’t she just block that scumbag’s number the first time? Doesn’t she know that mistakes happen when you don’t?

All’s well that ends well though … and that’s not a spoiler, it’s literally the plot of a rom-com – there’s a formula – the lead does NOT, under any circumstance, end up alone at the end. That’s how this single gal knows they aren’t real life (although this isn’t actually the end of my life … not even close – unless my pilot starts reading rom-coms while landing the plane!)!

Also this is the first in a series, so can’t wait until next summer!


104: Braving the Wilderness

Braving the Wilderness by Dr. Brenè Brown

I LOVE this book! I read it two years ago in one sitting (thank you long flight to San Francisco), and just listened to the audio again because I needed a reminder of belonging and fitting in and my place in the wilderness. Braving the Wilderness feels like my manifesto!

Brenè shows up in this book in all the right ways. Some of the things I loved hearing again most were:

It’s hard to hate people up close, so move in.

Shake hands with strangers.

Strong back, soft front, wild heart

This book is filled with wisdom and courage and support for the vulnerable. It’s a manifesto really, a way to show up for your life, be civil, be real, and all within real boundaries. I highly recommend!! Reading the physical book is great, but the audio (with her!) is amazing. Every time I was driving, I felt like I was getting a pep talk from my friend.

Over the past three years her work has changed the way I show up for my life, the way I contribute to the world, and how I talk to myself. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m well on my way to my journey into the wilderness!!