Misti’s 2019 Book Review

book book pages bookcase browse

I have always been an avid reader. As a child, every weekend my family traveled 2.5 hours each way to Marblehead for my dad’s fishing business. This was a time before cell phones, tablets, and other electronics. As the only child, in order to keep myself entertained I heavily relied on reading.

One of my goals every year is to read as much as possible. For the past couple years, my goal has been to read 12 books per year – an average of 1 book per month.

For two years, I have been posting my book reviews on Facebook in a Photo Album. Moving forward, I am going to post my book reviews on this blog.

Here is a synopsis of all the books I read so far in 2019. I will continue to update this page as I finish books throughout the year.

What are you reading right now and which books should I add to my list? I am always looking for my next great read!

Fish On,

Misti

This is Me

#1. This is Me, Chrissy Metz

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: A friend r commended this book to me, and I really enjoyed learning more about Chrissy Metz. She had overcome so much adversity in life, and she provides a lot of actionable advice. She wrote this book in a very impersonal tone, so it feels like you are sitting in the same room with her and chatting over a glass of wine.

The Light We Lost

#2. The Light We Lost, Jill Santopolo

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: While this book was a little long and drawn out, it was extremely relatable and left me thinking about this book long-after the final page. The author poses the subject of how a tragedy can draw people together and about decisions made in relationships and love. I would recommend this book as a beach read. Warning: you could shed some tears if you are an emotional person.

The Last Mrs Parrish

#3. The Last Mrs. Parrish, Liv Constantine

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This was an EXCELLENT THRILLER!! The twist midway through the book reminds me a lot of Gillian Flynn. This was a very entertaining, quick read that will keep you flipping the page.

The Other Woman

#4. The Other Woman, Sandee Jones

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: You will like this book, but be prepared to be really annoyed and frustrated with the characters! There are a lot of twists in the book, and I really liked the ending. This is a great summer read.

The Proposal

#5. The Proposal, Jasmine Guillory

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: This is a really romantic, easy read. It is also very funny, and the characters are very relatable. It is a little basic, which is why I didn’t give it an “A” rating.

See Me

#6. See Me, Nicholas Sparks

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: I love a good Nicholas Sparks book and this one did not disappoint. I loved the characters and the book kept me on the edge of my seat. This is a thriller and a romance combined, this is a perfect combo to me.

Erotic Stories

#7. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Women

Grade: B-

Overall Thoughts: There are two story lines to this book. One was strong while the other was overwhelming. Also, I feel like the book took a little long to ramp up. However, once you get into the book you will find it entertaining so I think it is still worth the read. I just wouldn’t prioritize it high on your list.

5 Love Languages

#8. 5 Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: This was a quick and profound read. I love how easy Dr. Chapman makes the concept easy to grasp. While these concepts are geared towards marriage, it is relevant to any relationship in your life: friends, coworkers, other family members, etc. I also heard Dr. Chapman speak at a marriage conference after reading this book, and he was so inspiring and entertaining. I highly recommend this book!

Missing Molly

#9. Missing Molly, Natalie Barelli

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This was a great book! It was a very easy read that will keep you guessing and will leave your mouth wide open in shock. I loved the main character and was in awe at all the decisions she had to make during her life. I highly recommend.

Where the Crawdads Sing

#10. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: I had high expectations for this book. And while it was really good it didn’t “Wow” me which is while I didn’t give it an “A” rating. While it is fiction, it reminds me a lot of “The Glass Castle” so if you like that book, you will like this one as well. This book is the perfect mix of history, mystery, science, and romance. You should definitely give it a try!

Something in Water.jpg

#11. Something in the Water, Catherine Steadman

Grade: C+

Overall Thoughts: This book was a little too long and paranoid for my liking. I felt really anxious the entire time while reading, and I like to read as an escape. It does have a lot of twists and the characters go to interesting places and grapple with a lot of moral dilemmas. I would not read again.

President is missing.jpg

#12. The President is Missing, Bill Clinton & James Patterson

Grade: D

Overall Thoughts: This book was SO LONG and drawn out. I thought the premise of the book was good, but it took way too long to get to the point. I did not enjoy this book at all. I almost abandoned this book, and I wish I wouldn’t have wasted my time.

Girl Stop Apologizing

#13. Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: I thought this book was really good and had a lot of tangible takeaways. Rachel provided very realistic advice and ideas on how to live your best life unapologetically. The book is the perfect length as well, and would be great as a book club read. However, I didn’t think it was as good as Girl, Wash Your Face which is why I only gave it a B+ instead of an A. I still highly recommend, though!

18th Abduction

#14. 18th Abduction, James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: The Women’s Murder Club series is my favorite book series. I thought this book was good, but it was a flashback to 5 years ago and I DID NOT LIKE THAT! I love to see how characters have evolved in present time, and since this book was a flashback it did not afford the opportunity to determine what is going on with characters after the end of the last book. That was highly disappointing to me. However, the book was entertaining as usual and was an enjoyable and easy read. In addition, I read that the next Women’s Murder Club book will be released in December (A Christmas theme!) so I am excited that I don’t have to wait an entire year to read the next one.

Happy Birthday, Dad

happy birthday dad

If my dad were alive today, he would be 61.

It’s hard to believe that this is the second birthday without him. The permanence of his suicide is just too much to take sometimes, but I refuse to let his absence and cause of death define my life. Instead, I choose to celebrate him and all the great memories that we shared together.

In honor of my dad’s 61st birthday, I wanted to share 61 memories of my dad. There are so many more great memories, but these are just a variety that came top of mind when I decided to write them down this morning.

61 Memories of My Dad

 

  1.  Although my dad did NOT like chocolate, his birthday cake of choice was always a devil’s food chocolate cake with milk chocolate icing. Ever since I was old enough to bake, I always made him one from scratch to celebrate.
  2. When I was 7, I went on my first roller coaster with my Dad and Uncle Bob. We were at Cedar Point and rode the Raptor. It was so fun!
  3. My Dad loved banana Laffy Taffy. I would always save the yellow ones for him. Actually, he loved anything banana flavored.
  4. One year, my dad named his work forklift “The Awesome Possum.” I helped him create a banner for it, and he had it taped to the forklift. I thought that was so funny.
  5. Whenever I needed a button sewn on, my dad was the one to help. He always used fishing line to see because it was way stronger than thread.
  6. My dad was a champion speed skater. I always loved when he would skate during my skating parties in elementary school, because he was so good and fast, and made me look cool.
  7. My dad sold all of his speed skating trophies in one of my grandpa’s garage sales.
  8. Every night, I went with my dad to the local convenience store to play the lottery. He always let me pick out an instant and a treat. I usually chose a Doubling Dollar and candy cigarettes.
  9. When I had my tonsils removed, my mom asked him to get me jello from the store. He came back with EVERY SINGLE flavor. He wanted to make sure I had options. I liked the island pineapple the best.
  10. Every Friday driving to the lake, my mom, dad and I would have a jam session and would belt out our favorite tunes. I liked Cheap Trick and Meatloaf the best.
  11. Every Sunday driving home from the lake, my dad listened to the NASCAR race. Do you know how boring it is to listen to NASCAR on the radio? I do.
  12. When I was 9, my dad took me to see “The Rock.” Yes, it was an R rated movie. Yes, my mom was upset. Yes, I thought it was awesome.
  13. My dad loved hunting for Beanie Babies with me. We always had so much fun finding them.
  14. When I was little, my dad assembled a playhouse for me. Since I could never find anything with my on it, he made me a “Misti’s Clubhouse” sign and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
  15. One time when I was 10, I faked being sick so I could stay home from school. My dad stopped at Blockbuster on the way home to rent movies. He also got me a stuffed animal dog from “There’s Something About Mary.” I still feel terrible about that.
  16. When my first boyfriend came over for the first time (I was a freshman in high school), my dad quickly ate dinner and then sat in the recliner and watched TV the entire time. I don’t think he ever talked to my boyfriend that night.
  17. My dad and I would always go to Blockbuster every single Friday night to get movies. I was never allowed to get popcorn or snacks.
  18. Occasionally my parents would get Chinese food and I thought that was disgusting. That was the only time I was allowed to eat a different meal. My dad and I would go to Kroger and I was allowed to get a “Kid’s Cuisine” meal before picking up their meal.
  19. My dad NEVER had pizza delivered. We always picked up Donatos and brought it back.
  20. My dad taught me how to drive and was always very calm. My mom, on the other hand, was not.
  21. My dad loved online shopping, even before it was popular. He bought one of my prom dresses online from New York and I thought I was so fancy.
  22. My dad was a great cook. He made the best wings and walleye.
  23. My dad could NOT make lemon bars. Every time he tried, he would burn them.
  24. My dad always let me fish for bluegills at the dock. I really enjoyed that.
  25. My dad and I always waited until Christmas Eve to buy my mom’s presents. We would go to Westland Mall and it was so fun.
  26. In order to be released from the hospital after my tonsillectomy, I had to eat my entire breakfast. I HATED eggs at the time, so my dad ate my eggs so I could go home.
  27. My dad always bought Blake the most random things and he always loved them.
  28. My dad loved watching movies. I loved sitting with him in our Buckeye Basement and watch with him.
  29. My parents loved hosting parties and it was fun planning with them. I loved our Ohio State vs. Michigan party the most.
  30. The first time my dad met Aaron, he told Aaron that “Misti will kick your ass fishing.” I was mortified.
  31. My dad was obsessed with The Weather Channel. I hated watching it with him.
  32. For a while, we would go to karaoke every Friday night. It was so fun. My dad never did the karaoke, though. He just liked to watch.
  33. My dad and I were not big dancers, but my mom is. So when dancing was involved, my dad and I sat back and watched my mom tear up the dance floor.
  34. Even though my dad did not enjoy my flute playing, he attended every single band concert – except the sprig he quit smoking. He skipped that one.
  35. I always loved when my dad would play video games with me. I would always beat him and he thought it was funny.
  36. The only game my dad would play with me was Crazy 8s. I didn’t really like that game but I played it a lot so I could spend time with him.
  37. When my dad retired from Sears, he got to pick out a retirement gift. I always wanted a globe growing up, and he picked that out as his gift and gave it to me. I love that globe and it’s displayed in our basement.
  38. My dad would always dress up as Jim Tressel for Halloween. Parents and kids would get so excited when he opened up the door to give out candy, and many took pictures with him.
  39. My dad and I loved making buckeye necklaces together.
  40. My dad made his own fishing lures called weapons. I have spent countless hours of my life making weapons with him.
  41. When my parents dropped me off at college, my dad cried. That was one of the only times I saw him cry.
  42. My sophomore year of college we finally got text messaging. I loved texting my parents goodnight. It was so exciting to be able to message them whenever I wanted.
  43. My dad bought me mace when I went to college. If that isn’t true love, I don’t know what is.
  44. When I was living at home, I NEVER pumped my own gas. My dad always did and I didn’t know how to pump gas until I was in college.
  45. When I was in high school, my dad gave my barbies away to a needy family at work. I was devastated when I found out, but now I realize how kind that was.
  46. My dad was super helpful with our wedding. The day before, he drove all over to get supplies. And he never complained about wearing a tuxedo. I was so impressed.
  47. My dad gave a speech at our wedding and it meant the world to me. I know he was nervous, but he really wanted to thank people for coming and making the day so special.
  48. In high school, I wanted to create band hoodies since many other schools had them. My parents fronted the money to pay for them and my dad helped make it happen. That meant a lot to me. My dreams were always important to them.
  49. My dad was so proud of my husband, Aaron. Whenever he would introduce Aaron to people he would say, “This is my daughters boyfriend/fiancé/husband, Aaron. He went to Harvard!” We always thought that was so funny.
  50. I am so glad we went on a trip to Jamaica a couple years ago. It was my parents first time out of the country and they loved it. I will cherish that vacation forever.
  51. When I was little, I always wanted my dad to fix my hair. He would blow dry it and style it in a way I thought was so cool.
  52. Growing up, I went to so many sport shows with my parents. I would help set up the fishing booth and try to sell charters. I also slept on the concrete floor of the booth to pass the time.
  53. When I was in middle school, my dad taught me how to cut his hair so he didn’t have to pay for haircuts. I never did a very good job.
  54. I always tried to buy my dad the best birthday and Christmas presents. And oftentimes he would never use them. That blue ray DVD player? Seldom used. Those Columbia fishing clothes? The lost them in his own closet. I was annoyed at the time but I thought it was really funny.
  55. My first cell phone was one of those big, clunky NEXTEL phones. My dad said that I needed a sturdy phone in case I dropped it off the football stands in college. And he also liked the fact that we could use the walkie talkie feature to talk to each other whenever we wanted.
  56. My parents took me to the Mary Chapin-Carpenter concert at the Palace Theatre when I was about 9. It was my first concert and I loved that BOTH my parents went. We had a great time.
  57. The last gift that my dad ever bought me was a bright pink, super long cell phone charging cable. He said I would always know which one was mine because it was pink, and that the long ones were better and more functional. If you ever want to use it and I get weird about it, that’s why. I am very protective of that gift.
  58. My dad was a great contractor and did many home renovation projects himself. I loved helping him. Demo day is my favorite.
  59. When I started working, I called my dad on my commute home every night. He was usually driving home at the same time and I loved catching up with him.
  60. My dad had me in his phone as AMisti so he could get to me easily. I also had my own ring tone in his phone.
  61. When I was about 5, my dad bought this car that didn’t have seatbelts in the back, just a bar you held onto. I thought it was so cool, but my mom did not. She made him return it the next day.

I hope enjoyed reading some of these memories of my dad. Happy birthday, dad – I will always love you.

Fish On,

Misti

 

How to Write an Obituary

creative smartphone desk notebook

When my dad died, SO MANY decisions needed to be made simultaneously. Did I want my dad to be a tissue donor? Which funeral date and time would best accommodate this tragic life event? What poem did I want inside the funeral program and what type of tranquil theme best captured my dad’s personality? What picture immortalized my dad for posterity—the one holding two large walleyes, or the one of him standing next to me on my wedding day (and were we far enough away from each other that I could be completely cropped out)?

Another big decision that needed to be made was the writing of my dad’s obituary. It wasn’t discussed, but rather assumed that since I was the designated writer of the family, that I would be the one to take on this insurmountable task. And, honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. In my mind, this was one of the last ways I could express my undying love for my dad while focusing on his life rather than dwelling on the gory details of his death.

“In my mind, this was one of the last ways I could express my undying love for my dad while focusing on his life rather than dwelling on the gory details of his death.”

I had never written an obituary before, and as a researcher, I leaned on my natural tendency to research the topic at hand. When I Googled, “How to write an obituary” not many helpful tips and tricks populated my screen. I then proceeded to scour the web for recent obituaries, and that felt depressing and morbid. I desperately wished I could find a how-to guide for this important and unwanted task. Because, trust me, if you are the one chosen to write an obituary it means that YOU were one of the most important people in your loved one’s life. And even if you are the best writer in the world, the last thing you will want to do is to sit down for hours and write that story—especially if it is forced and unexpected.

“If you are the one chosen to write an obituary it means that YOU were one of the most important people in your loved one’s life. And even if you are the best writer in the world, the last thing you will want to do is to sit down for hours and write that story—especially if it is forced and unexpected.”

Since I couldn’t find helpful resources, I stared at my blank computer screen, prayed to God for the right words, and wrote from my heart. I have received many heartfelt compliments about my dad’s obituary and I wanted to create a “how to” guide for others who are in an unfortunate similar position. I have also included my dad’s obituary below for anyone who wants to use as a starting point.

Tips for Writing an Obituary

1. Start with the Details: List your loved one’s name and age. Add in details of when they passed, and where. If you’d like include details such as birth date, where they grew up, and parents.

2. Insert Career & Volunteer Details: Include career details, and any causes that your loved one was passionate about.

3. Include Details about Your Loved One’s Personality: Describe your loved one in 1-2 sentences.

4. Share about Hobbies & Interests: Include 1-2 sentences about your loved one’s hobbies and interests throughout the years.

5. Family Information: Include information about family that is left behind, and those that preceded in death.

6. Visitation & Funeral Information: Include details about the visitation and funeral information, including the address, date, and time. If your family prefers other gestures than flowers, mention the alternative here. Also include the website in which online condolences can be made.

My Dad’s Obituary

Captain Kendall “KP” Parsley, 59, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, July 4, 2017 in Marblehead, Ohio. Born February 23, 1958 to Roy and Wanda Parsley, Kendall grew up in Columbus, Ohio.  It was there he met his beloved wife, Brenda Hicks, whom he married on May 16, 1987. The couple recently celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary with a trip to Las Vegas.

KP began his career at Sears, where he worked in logistics management. He retired from the company after 40 years of service on December 31, 2014. Kendall was also an avid fisherman both personally and professionally which led him to owning and operating Drift Away Charters in Marblehead, Ohio where he was a Charter Captain licensed by the US Coast Guard and the State of Ohio. He was an active member of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (LECBA) and enthusiastically volunteered with charitable organizations such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society through fishing tournaments. Captain KP was extremely passionate about the conservation of Lake Erie and the sport fishery industry and volunteered in the Governor’s Fish Ohio Day each year.

Kendall was known to family and friends alike as a generous, unassuming gentlemen who was the first to lend a helping hand at a moment’s notice. He spoke infrequently, offering sage and thoughtful advice and witty humor that was highly valued by those fortunate enough to hear it.

When he wasn’t fishing, KP enjoyed tinkering on various projects throughout the house and garage, watching movies from his impressive collection, and cheering on the Ohio State Buckeyes where his daughter earned her graduate degree. Most recently, he liked bowling at Star Lanes in Port Clinton and was a member of the Channel Grove Bowling League. KP delighted in spending time with his children, grandson, relatives and Channel Grove family, all whom cherished him.

Kendall is survived by his wife, Brenda; children Misti (Aaron) Allison, and Steven Parsley; grandson Blake Allison; sisters Linda (Ronnie) Pierce, Andrea Clickenger and sister-in-law Rosal Parsley. He is preceded in death by his parents; infant grandson, Kaiden Evans-Parsley and brother, Raymond Parsley.

Visitation will be held on Saturday, July 8, 2017 at the Neidecker, LeVeck & Crosser Funeral Home, 7755 E. Harbor Road, Lakeside Marblehead, Ohio 43440 from 4pm to 7pm and a memorial service will immediately follow with Pastor Jan Winnale officiating.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to Blake Allison’s CollegeAdvantage Savings Plan as Kendall was adamant about contributing to his grandson’s college education. Memorial contributions may be made at Ugift529.com by entering the Ugift code: 29Y-74F.

Online condolences may be shared with the family at http://www.neideckerleveckcrosser.com.

I Hope You Find this Helpful.

I pray that you don’t have to use this how-to guide for a VERY long time. But when you do, I hope you remember this post and use it to help guide your words during this extremely sad time in your life. Words matter. Your loved one matters. And the task of writing an obituary matters.

Fish On,

Misti

Misti’s 2018 Book Review

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile

I have always been an avid reader. As a child, every weekend my family traveled 2.5 hours each way to Marblehead for my dad’s fishing business. This was a time before cell phones, tablets, and other electronics. As the only child, in order to keep myself entertained I heavily relied on reading.

One of my goals every year is to read as much as possible. For the past couple years, my goal has been to read 12 books per year – an average of 1 book per month. And in 2018, I read 28 books!

For two years, I have been posting my book reviews on Facebook in a Photo Album. Moving forward, I am going to post my book reviews on this blog.

Here is a synopsis of all the books I read in 2018, and a video of which book was my favorite and least favorite.

Misti’s 2018 Book Review

The Woman in Cabin 10

#1: The Woman In Cabin 10, Ruth Ware
Grade: C-
Overall Thoughts: I was very unimpressed by this book. The story line was not particularly cohesive and the ending was odd. This was a very popular book, but I would not recommend reading it. Not the best thriller I’ve ever read, by far!

Everything I Never Told You

#2: Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: An extremely thought-provoking book that holds your attention from the very first sentence. It covers a span of intimate topics: death of a teenager, grieving, racial tensions, gender inequality, family dysfunction, and more. It really makes you think: there is so much that you never tell even your closest confidants, and so much that they don’t tell you. I think Taylor Swift said it best in her reputation prologue: “We think we know someone, but the truth is that we only know the version of them they have chosen to show us.”

Outward Mindset

#3: The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves, The Arbinger Institute
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: Not the best or worst business book I’ve ever read. While the concept seems basic, it does lead for excellent discussion and brainstorming within a team setting. Since reading, I have thought a lot about how I can have more of an “outward mindset” in all facets of my life. It is human nature to focus “inward” so it is always beneficial to take a pause to recalibrate and make a conscious effort to doing better, in my opinion.

Eleanor Oliphant

#4: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: If you liked “A Man Called Ove” or “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared,” you will enjoy this book. While this novel begins a little slowly, it does gain momentum as readers fall in love with quirky Eleanor and her logical views on life and attempts to reinvent herself. This book also discusses some serious concepts which adds a lot of depth to the humor. Honeyman is a superbly witty writer with a strong ability to perfectly develop numerous characters, which I sincerely enjoy and appreciate as a reader.

The Alchemist

#5: The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Grade: C+
Overall Thoughts: This is a literary classic, so perhaps my expectations were set a little high. I thought the book was good but not great. It is very philosophical so you have to really be in the mood for some deep, symbolic thinking. With that in mind, the book does evoke many profound questions about living your dream and best life, so you will feel like you got something out of it. My favorite quote from the book is, “You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.” My feelings for this book are similar to my thoughts on Las Vegas: I am glad I experienced it, but not in a big hurry to do it again.

Alex Cross

#6: The People vs. Alex Cross
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: This was your standard Alex Cross book. I enjoy catching up with the characters that I have invested so much time with throughout the years. It was a good read, but nothing life-changing. I look forward to reading the next Alex Cross book when it comes out. If you like book series and haven’t read an Alex Cross book, I highly recommend doing so!

Little Fires

#7: Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: I had really high expectations for this book, which is probably why I felt a little underwhelmed. While the characters were interesting, and it was nice to know the area since took place in Shaker Heights, I wasn’t super invested in any of the key players. I also thought the ending was extremely underdeveloped. However, I do think this is an excellent choice for a book club since it covers many taboo topics that will be great for a group discussion.

Adam Sharp

#8: The Best of Adam Sharp, Graeme Simsion
Grade: C-
Overall Thoughts: I LOVED this author’s previous books (The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect) so I was excited to read this one. However, it was absolutely bizarre! It took a while for the plot to develop and then when it did, I wasn’t too eager to finish. The book did have some good life lessons to think about, mainly, the grass isn’t always greener and that your past is probably in your past for a reason. While I highly recommend Simsion’s previous books, I do NOT recommended this one.

A is for Alibi

#9: A is for Alibi, Sue Grafton
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: When Sue Grafton passed away in late 2017 after a two-year battle with cancer, I read a couple articles about her and was absolutely blown away by her compassion, work ethic, and dedication to her family and fans. I was familiar with her Alphabet series but had never read one of her books before. I figured I would start from the beginning, and I did like the first book in the series. Kinsey is a strong female lead, the plot captivated me from the first sentence, and the plot left me guessing until the very end. I plan to read a couple more books in the series before deciding if I am an avid Grafton fan.

Alone

#10: Alone, Lisa Gardner
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: The plot of this book was pretty good, although it was confusing at times. It really kept me guessing until the end. And even then, I was still left thinking. This is the first book in a series, and I will read the next one to see if I want to commit. Also, the book was based in Boston, and since I have been there so often, it was nice to be familiar with many of the landmarks throughout the story.

B is for burgular

#11: B is for Burglar, Sue Grafton
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: I liked this book better than the first in the series. It was very thought provoking and kept me entertained until the end. However, there were way too many characters to keep track of, which is why I didn’t rate it higher.

Favorite Sister

#12: The Favorite Sister, Jessica Knoll
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: I liked this book a lot better than Knoll’s first book, “The Luckiest Girl Alive.” It was an interesting concept to frame the book around a reality show, especially since that type of programming is so prevalent in our society. The characters were very defined and they went on interesting journeys. I liked that readers are able to see three different perspectives throughout the book. I do think the book was a little too long, as it often rambled without having a clear purpose at many points. Also, I don’t think the title really fits with the overall plot of the book. I would have titled it something else.

Hide

#13: Hide, Lisa Gardner
Grade: A
Overall Thoughts: This was an excellent book that kept me guessing until the end. I love that there were characters from the last book as well. I am looking forward to reading the next novel in the series!

17th Suspect

#14: 17th Suspect, James Patterson
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: This was a good continuation of the series, but felt pretty much like the others. However, the ending had a great cliff hanger and I am anxious to read the next book when it is released in May 2019.

Neighbor

#15: The Neighbor, Lisa Gardner
Grade: C
Overall Thoughts: This book was pretty lackluster and anticlimactic in comparison to the former books in this series. I wouldn’t skip over this book…just set your expectations low.

Kiss Quotient

#16: The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang
Grade: A+
Overall Thoughts: Think Fifty Shades of Grey for nerdy people, but with a way better plot and way better writing. Stella and Michael are extremely complex and charming characters for this type of novel. Disclaimer: This is not just a “love story” like I initially thought, but rather an extremely erotic book! 😬 I totally was not expecting this, so I am just throwing that out there. It is VERY PASSIONATE AND DESCRIPTIVE! If that is your type of thing, you will love this book. If it’s not, then you should pass!

Live to Tell

#17: Live to Tell, Lisa Gardner
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: This book kept my attention and had a good storyline, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. It was good, not great.

Love You More

#18: Love You More, Lisa Gardner
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: I really liked the plot about DD Warren, and the plot about the crime was clever and captivating. This was an easy and interesting read.

Girl, Wash Your Face

#19: Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis
Grade: A+
Overall Thoughts: This book lives up to all its hype. I listened to the audio book, and I highly recommend the audio version since Rachel is the one who narrates, so you clearly understand the points she wants to emphasize. I loved how the chapters were set up, and she offered a lot of practical advice. This is an EXCELLENT book club read. To see an extensive review about the book club I had at my house for this book, see this older blog post.

7th Month

#20: The 7th Month, Lisa Gardner
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: This is a short story about when DD Warren is pregnant (spoiler alert!), so it was nice that the author didn’t skip over this phase of her life. I am actually surprised that this wasn’t a full length book. It was interesting, but it did feel a little rushed.

I Almost Forgot About You

#21: I Almost Forgot About You, Terry McMillan
Grade: A
Overall Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. The writing was on point, satirical, and real. I think I would have liked it even more if I would have been 20 years older, since Georgia’s concerns of having an empty nest, finding new hobbies, and being a grandparent, would have been even more relatable. Nonetheless, this was a refreshing read that shows it is never too late to reinvent yourself.

Surprise Me

#22: Surprise Me, Sophie Kinsella
Grade: D
Overall Thoughts: Based on the synopsis, I was very excited to read this book. However, the plot is ENTIRELY different than what was depicted. I was really hoping for a lighthearted read, and it ended up being extremely deep and thought provoking. That being said, the book was very long and didn’t live up to my expectations. I recommend skipping this one.

All We Ever Wanted

#23: All We Ever Wanted, Emily Giffin
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: This was a solid Emily Giffin book. Interesting story. Well-developed characters. A taboo topic examined. An easy read. I became vested in the characters and I never wanted to end a chapter. As a reader, that is a good feeling. Plus, the book has an EPILOGUE! And it fast forwards 10 YEARS! And that makes my heart happy.

Badass

#24: You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: Very similar to “Girl, Wash Your Face,” so if you like that book you will like this one. I took away some key nuggets of information so I found the time reading the book was valuable. This book is worth reading, and I have recommended it to many people already. The reason I didn’t give the book an “A” rating is due to the amount of time the author talks about money. I really don’t feel like I have those types of feelings towards money, so those (numerous) parts were not helpful to me and I just found myself thinking, “Okay, I get it. Move into another way I can be a badass!”

Woman in the Window

#25: The Woman in the Window, A.J. Finn
Grade: B-
Overall Thoughts: I think I set the bar too high for this book. When I saw that Gillian Flynn described this book as, “Astounding. Thrilling. Amazing.” I was expecting something more. I struggled a little at the beginning due to its slow pace, and I think the book could have been reduced by a couple chapters. However, it was an above average read and the ending was GREAT! So…if you like a good thriller, it is worth the read from the library but I wouldn’t buy it or reread.

Good Daughter

#26: The Good Daughter, Karin Slaughter
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: This book had many twists and turns. The characters were extremely engaging and developed. The topic is pretty gruesome so beware. The reason I gave the book a “B” rating is that it the book went back and forth from past to present day, and then from the point of view of two different characters. So that was very confusing and didn’t flow well. I understand what the author was trying to do, but that isn’t my favorite writing style. Overall, I recommend this book if you like thrillers.

Notorious RBG

#27: Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik 
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: The premise of this book is really great. I didn’t know much about RBG before reading this and I learned a lot about her career, family, and advocacy. While reading this book, I thought a lot about women’s rights and human rights. I think I have taken many of my rights for granted (such as the ability to attend college in any desired major, and then work, and then work AND have a family), and it was helpful to learn more about the history surrounding these rights and how RBG had such an influence. This is an excellent book club book, that with spark great intellectual discussion.

Nine Perfect Strangers

#28: Nine Perfect Strangers, Liane Moriarty
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: Liane Moriarty is one of my “Top 3” authors and I have been eagerly anticipating her new book for YEARS! Seriously…I have read all of her books and they got me through some rough times during maternity leave. I thought the premise of this book was good but I wasn’t blown away like I was with the others. The structure is the same – many different characters whose lives are interwoven in some way. I laughed a lot, cried a little, and did get invested in the plot. I suggest reading this book, but if you are an avid Liane Moriarty fan like me, just set the bar a little lower so you get the most enjoyment from this novel.

My Favorite & Least Favorite Books of the Year

And my favorite and least favorite books of the year were…

 

What Should I Read Next?

What was your favorite book of 2018, and what are some recommendations you have for my 2019 reading list?

Fish On,

Misti

 

 

2019 Goal Setting: A Free Template to Map Out Your New Year

close up of text

At the end of every year, I make time to sit and reflect on the past year, and prioritize what I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. Maybe it’s the Type-A planner in me, but mapping out the new year is one of my favorite things to do!

Since I was about 9 years old (I’m not kidding!), I have always went through a similar process to set my goals for the new year. I know many people who want to make plans and focus on their goals, but simply don’t know where to even begin.

For those who are thinking, “Yes, this is so me!” I have included the goal setting worksheet that I use for my goal setting each year at the end of this blog post.

How do I do it?

To set my goals, I like to take a holistic approach and look at many facets of my life. For the past couple of years, I have broken out my goals into the following areas:

  • Theme for the Year: The main over-arching sentiment I want to accomplish that year.
  • Church & Faith: How do I want to grow my relationship with God?
  • Family & Friends: Ways to connect more deeply with my spouse, child, and extended family/friends.
  • Health: What can I do to be a healthier version of myself?
  • Home: Ways I can enhance my home life, typically through major house projects
  • Travel: Where do I want to travel, and who do I want to visit?
  • Work: What do I want to accomplish in my career?
  • Miscellaneous: What other goals to I have for my life?

Then What do I do?

After I think about my goals, I type them up on my worksheet. Then, I print it out and hang it up somewhere that I can see on a daily basis. I usually hang up this worksheet in my office. I think it is very important to display your goals somewhere that you can track on a regular basis. And it is always so satisfying when you are able to check one off the list!

“It is very important to display your goals somewhere that you can track on a regular basis.”

Get Your Goal Setting Worksheet

To download my goal setting worksheet template, click here. Feel free to modify in a way that meets your personal goals and needs!

Happy New Year!

I hope you find this post about goal setting to be helpful for you! No matter what your goals are for 2019, I wish you a blessed year ahead in which we all learn to let go more, laugh a little harder, and love a little stronger.

Fish On,

Misti

Download Your Goal Setting Worksheet Here!

 

Christmas in Heaven

acorn advent blur bright

This is the second Christmas season without my dad. I intended to write many blog posts between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but to be honest, I just haven’t been in the writing mood.

Many people say that the second holiday season without a loved one is the hardest, and now I completely agree. Last year, Christmas came five months after my dad’s suicide and the reality of this permanence hadn’t set in for me yet. Sure, I knew that my dad was gone forever but I was honestly still in shock. It takes time for the frozen feeling of grief to melt and then you are left with a puddle of sadness for all that will never be.

“It takes time for the frozen feeling of grief to melt and then you are left with a puddle of sadness for all that will never be.”

Fast forward a year later, everything this Christmas season reminds me of my dad and it is a lot to handle emotionally.

The Grinch? We watched that together.

Taking Blake sledding? My dad will never get to see that pure joy on my son’s face.

Making my dad’s favorite holiday recipes? Wow – I never thought that I would be the one making them at the young age of 30.

Although I try to be positive and make the most out of a terrible situation, I admit, there are times that are pretty unbearable. Oftentimes, I carry my dad and this sadness with me everywhere I go—I can feel the heartache in every corner of my being, and deep down in my soul. I think expressing these feelings with others is really important, because it may look like I have it all together on the outside, but on the inside I am absolutely devastated.

“I can feel the heartache in every corner of my being, and deep down in my soul. I think expressing these feelings with others is really important, because it may look like I have it all together on the outside, but on the inside I am absolutely devastated.”

I thought I had so many more Christmases left with my dad. And now I don’t.

To comfort myself, I recently have been thinking about what Christmas must be like in Heaven. I am sure it is an extraordinary event, and I think about my dad sitting around a table of all our lost loved ones with so much peace and joy. I think about that image when I start to feel sad.

On Friday, I went to lunch with my dear friend Alyssa. It was so great to catch up about our careers, children, and life in general. At the end of our lunch, she handed me a Christmas present and I did the same. I drove home, got back to work, and then a couple hours later I remembered that I hadn’t opened my gift yet.

As I pulled out the tissue paper, I saw a red lantern, and I thought “Wow, this is so nice and festive!” Then, I turned the lantern around and discovered that there was a little Christmas tree, packages, a rocking chair and a candle inside.

Then, I burst into tears.

And keep in mind, I probably hadn’t cried in a month. I have just been in a place where I have been so frozen in grief that even my tears were icy.

“I have just been in a place where I have been so frozen in grief that even my tears were icy.”

On the lantern, Alyssa inscribed a beautiful poem about Christmas in Heaven. She is so creatively talented, and made this lantern all my herself. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and generosity. I will cherish this lantern for the rest of my life, and I am so grateful for Alyssa, her friendship, and her Godly heart.

Christmas in Heaven

The Poem Inscribed on the Lantern

Christmas in Heaven

What do they do?

They come down to earth to spend it with you.

So leave them a seat,

Just one empty chair.

You may not see them,

But they will be there.

-Author Unknown

My Christmas Wish for You

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one this Christmas, I pray that God is near to help you carry on traditions that keep your loved one’s memory alive. I pray that you find comfort in family and friends, and that you can lean on one another during the ups and downs of the holiday season. And when those inevitable tears come, I hope that you can be vulnerable enough to embrace the tears and realize that it takes strength to admit when we are weak. And I hope that we always remember that although our loved ones are gone, they still exist in a happy, more peaceful state with God, yet are always connected to us through love.

Fish On,

Misti