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.”

Yup.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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!!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

103: The Knockoff

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza

This book was just what I needed to get my out of my June reading rut! The Knockoff was like The Devil Wears Prada but in reverse. It over exaggerates the weird obsession that millennials have with technology, being right, and taking over the world. Now I don’t want to disparage my entire generation, but sometimes we really are the worst.

Eve – she was the worst! The overall issue though is that she really didn’t have any idea who she was, what her place was in the world, or how she should relate to the world.

Imogen was the perfect lead though. She showed up for her life, took advantage of the opportunities to learn, and leaned into where she needed to be. She’s the hero of this story – and was a great example to anyone who walks into a TechB Boss like Eve. “Kill ’em with kindness” is still great advice!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

102: Between You & Me

Between You & Me by Mary Norris

I found this book looking for another book about English and grammar on Amazon. Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen is the grammatical memoir of a copyrighted from The New Yorker. I learned about Noah Webster, and Benjamin Franklin’s weird plans for deleting j’s and other important letters.

The making of a dictionary (or a speller as they were once called) is a messy business. Apparently, you make a lot of people unhappy. Especially editors! I was relating this story about Franklin, the vanishing j’s, and Webster, and she replied, “Webster should never have been allowed to write a dictionary!” WOW! Excuse me, I didn’t know it was such a controversial topic!

Later chapters related the differences between a hyphen, an en dash, and an em dash. I think those are -, –, and —. Or maybe not. I still don’t really understand what they look like or how to use them. All I know is that I, personally, use a lot of dashes, and now I think I’m using them incorrectly.

The last chapter about pencils might be my favorite. It had me laughing out loud! No. 1 verses No. 2 … the author prefers a No. 1, but they are very hard to find.

Loved this book!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for both prose and interesting information.

101: The Other Side of Beauty

The Other Side of Beauty by Leah Darrow

A friend and I are reading The Other Side of Beauty by Leah Darrow for our beginning of summer ‘Buddy Read.’ I’ve been listening to Leah’s podcast, Do Something Beautiful, on and off for the past two years and following her on Instagram. So when Lisa suggested this as our next read, I was all in.

Overall, it was a good read, I’d say a solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. There were a few areas where I think she still focused on a very superficial view of beauty. In chapter 3 on “False Love” she writes this:

However, if my definition of love is God’s definition – that love is desiring the good for others – then I will be attracted to people who love in this way, even if they are physically ugly. (pg 56)

That didn’t sit well with me. It feels like it goes against everything she’s trying to convey with her book on beauty. That it’s not skin deep, that it isn’t defined by how we look, that it’s more than just something we see on someone’s face.

She continues to describe the things that make us beautiful – truly who we are in Christ, how we reflect Him, and what we do to promote His love in the world.

Overall, a good read – read it in two sittings … but if I’d didn’t own it and wasn’t discussing with a friend later this week, I might have put it down after reading that paragraph on page 56.