Misti’s 2020 Book Review

book book pages bookcase browse

2020 brought a lot of changes on a macro and micro level. COVID-19 impacted every facet of how we live and during this time my mom was also diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

In times of uncertainty, one constant for me has always been reading. I love reading because it is such a great escape from every day life. And who didn’t need an escape last year?

In 2020, I read (or listened to) 36 books! Multiple times a week traveled 2.5 hours each way to help care for my mom and this afforded extra time to listen to audiobooks.

Below you will find the reviews for the books I read in 2020. I hope you find one that you would like to escape with for a while!

PS: Looking for more great books? Check out my 2019 Book Review and 2018 Book Review!

Fish On,

Misti
Party Girl

#1. Party Girl, Rachel Hollis

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: Did you know that before Rachel Hollis was a self-help guru, she wrote fiction? Party Girl is the first book in a three-part book series (and you all know I love a good book series!). The series is based on Rachel Hollis’s previous life as a Hollywood party planner and the lives of three best friends. The characters are delightfully complex and relatable. This was such an easy read and I highly recommend!

 

Sweet Girl

#2. Sweet Girl, Rachel Hollis

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: Surprise! This is the second book of Rachel Hollis’s three-part book series. I liked the first book so much that I immediately dived into the second book. Each book is written from the perspective of a different character. While I liked the main character of this book, I liked her more as the sidekick she was in the first book. However, it was still a good, easy, and enjoyable read.

Smart Girl

#3. Smart Girl, Rachel Hollis

Grade: B-

Overall Thoughts: This was the last book in Rachel Hollis’s fiction book series. I liked it the least. This book revolved around the last of the best friends, Miko. She is a strong, ambitious character who loses her way while trying to find love. I felt very frustrated while reading the book, but maybe that was the intent. It did have a good ending AND an epilogue, which I always appreciate. I still recommending reading the book to finish the series.

Criss Cross

#4. Criss Cross, James Patterson

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: If you’ve followed my book reviews for a while, you know that I love two different James Patterson series – The Woman’s Murder Club series and the Alex Cross series. The latest Alex Cross book does not disappoint. There is so much action and it ties up many different story lines. AND…the book ends with a huge cliffhanger! I can’t wait until the next installment is released.

The Greatest You

#5. The Greatest You, Trent Shelton

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: Read or listen to this book right now. It is so inspirational and wonderful. I first discovered Trent Shelton when he was a guest on Rachel Hollis’s RISE podcast and then I saw him speak in person at the RISExFtMyers conference in January. Trent’s story is incredible and he offers sage advice in a no-nonsense way. This book is such an easy and motivational read. And if you like it….check out Trent’s weekly podcast, Straight Up with Trent Shelton.

City of Girls

#6. City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: This was a really good, well written book. The characters were well developed and quite interesting. I laughed a lot, cried a lot, and was also in suspense. I thought this book was a little on the long side which is why I didn’t give it an A rating.

The Testaments

#7. The Testaments, Margaret Atwood

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: I waited FOREVER to get this book from my library’s waitlist. This is the long-anticipated sequel to The Handmaids tale. I really enjoyed the different story lines and the different characters – some new, some old. However, I thought the ending was confusing, very weak, and not conclusive.

Silent Patient

#8. The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: I love a good thriller, so I was very excited to read this book. It kept my interest and I thought about the plot a lot. It was an interesting story line. However, I suspected the ending about halfway through the book (and I was right) so I was a little disappointed by that! If you like this genre, it is still a good read that’s worth your time.

Heartburn

#9. Heartburn, Nora Ephron

Grade: C

Overall Thoughts: What do you do when your husband is having an affair, you have a small toddler, and another baby on the way? That is the premise of this book. It was recommend on many lists – including the Skimm reads where I initially heard about it. I listened to the audio book that Meryl Strep narrated. She did an excellent job. I was extremely frustrated with the main character, which I think was intentional. She is a food celebrity and random recipes are thrown into the book and a lot of the book revolves around food, which can be distracting and unfocused. At one point I thought about abandoning the book, but I felt I was already too committed. I think it is an okay read, but I was not super excited about it.

Get Out of Way

#10. Get Out of Your Own Way, Dave Hollis

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: Dave Hollis’s first book is EXCELLENT! It has a similar structure as his wife Rachel Hollis’s self-help books. However, his tone is extremely different and very relatable. He has a completely different perspective and point of view that is valuable, vulnerable, and easy. I took a lot of notes while reading this book, and I highly recommend for anyone who often finds themselves being their biggest roadblock in the pursuit of a greater life.

Such a fun age

#11. Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: My manager recommend this book and it was also one of Reese’s book club picks. I describe it as a beach read – something you want to read that is enjoyable and not too strenuous. It does discuss some serious topics but it is still a nice escape from reality.

Fierce

#12. Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire, Jen Hatmaker

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: I first met Jen during Rachel Hollis’s RISE conference in January. I really enjoyed her speaking style and message so I signed up for her email newsletter. When she sent a message asking for people to be part of her book launch, I was so excited and intrigued. I have never been part of a book launch before, but wanted to get involved. I was thrilled to be selected and received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of the book. It was so fun to be part of the book launch and the book was great. It was easy to read and had a lot of great takeaways and suggestions to be the woman you were meant to be.

Open book

#13. Open Book, Jessica Simpson

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! I waited for MONTHS to get this book off the waitlist and I was giddy to start reading. This truly is an open book – from her childhood, marriage to Nick Lachey, other relationships, poor coping mechanisms, and struggles with the music industry in general,she lays it all out there in an extremely honest and matter-of-fact way. My husband is probably so glad that I finished this book, but I literally talked about Jessica Simpson’s life every night at dinner. I just found it so fascinating and I truly admire her and what she has accomplished in her life, both personally and professionally. Side note: I listened to the audio book. This book is narrated by Jessica Simpson, and I must admit – it was difficult to get used to her narration. I felt like she mumbled and lacked inflection. But once I got used to her narrating style, I did appreciate her ability to stress certain points and convey emotion.

Educated

#14. Educated, Tara Westover

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: WOW – this book is so interesting and heart wrenching! Again, my manager recommended this book and I love a good memoir. If you liked The Glass Castle, you will like this. The author shares about her experience growing up in a Mormon family in Idaho. Her dad is bipolar. She doesn’t go to school and isn’t even properly home schooled. She doesn’t even have a birth certificate until later in life and nobody is even sure of her exact birth date. I won’t give away the plot, but she does eventually go to school and documents everything in this poignant memoir. It is really long so make sure you are in the mood for a longer book before you commit to it. I had to check out this book (virtually) from the library twice in order to complete.

#15. Evvie Drake Starts Over, Linda Holmes

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: Evvie Drakes Starts Over is a highly entertaining, occasionally heartbreaking, and always engrossing story. The book is set in a small town in Maine and tells the story of Evvie Drake and Dean Tenney, two very different individuals who are hurting and need help recovering from their own personal traumas. This book reminds us that not everything is as it seems, and that grief and loss are different from all.

#16. Born a Crime, Trevor Noah

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: My book club selected this book for our spring read. I had never heard of Trevor Noah, but those in the book club who already read the book raved about it. And I LOVED it! Trevor tells the story of his life in such a real and captivating way that just hooks you from the very beginning. It was so educational to learn about Trevor’s experience growing up in South Africa and how much his family had to endure. I highly recommend this book, especially for a book club.

#17. The Hating Game, Sally Thorne

Grade: D+

Overall Thoughts: In the beginning, I HATED this book, almost abandoned it, and probably should have. The main characters work together at a publisher, are vying for the same promotion, and make each other’s lives miserable. My first thought was that these people are supposed to be ADULTS but yet they are so immature. Spoiler alert: they actually like each other and the taunting is their way of showing affection like they are in elementary school. The last half of the book was way better than the beginning, but I would still recommend not wasting your time with this one.

#18. The Rosie Result, Graeme Simsion

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: I LOVE this book series! If you have not read The Rosie Project or The Rosie Effect, stop what you’re reading and switch to these books NOW! In this book, Don Tillman is navigating the responsibilities of parenting his tween son after his family relocated back to their native Australia. Don is the same quirky, lovable character and his antics will not disappoint.

#19. It’s Not All Downhill From Here, Terry McMillan

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: After an unexpected loss, Loretha Curry takes a somewhat reluctant, but necessary, stock of her life, family, and friends. As usual, Terry McMillan gives us a story about real women who deal with life as it comes. Life sometimes gives us bad apples and McMillan’s characters show us how important it is to deal with them with the help of your friends and family. I appreciate the strong black female characters that McMillan depicts. I love Terry McMillan’s books and this one did not disappoint. While I am not the target audience for this book, I really enjoyed it, and I think someone who was an empty nester would find this book even more relatable.

#20: Big Summer, Jennifer Weiner

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: This was a great summer read full of love and mystery. I enjoyed the realness of the characters. This book is a thought-provoking, poignant exploration of friendship, self-esteem, body image, social media, and whether people truly are capable of change. The book is definitely a roller coaster and is jam packed with turns and twists.

#21: Make Something Good Today, Erin & Ben Napier

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This book is such a happy read. If you enjoy the HGTV show “Hometown” you will love learning more about Ben and Erin Napier, their upbringings, love story, and how they came to stardom. They truly adore each other and I loved learning more about their relationship. This book is a great reminder that with hard work and an open mind, life can be happening FOR you and not TO you, and that your life can take you farther than your wildest dreams.

#22: All Adults Here, Emma Straub

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: In All Adults Here, Emma Straub’s unique mix of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.  The book reminded me of This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (NOT the movie, the book), so if you liked that book, you will like this one. I loved all the characters and the dynamic between them. This book covers a wide variety of topics, which I enjoyed. But if you like a more refined and singular focused book then you may not enjoy this.

#23: Untamed, Glennon Doyle

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: This book is SO POWERFUL! I was not familiar with Glennon Doyle before reading this book but now I want to know more and plan to read Love Warrior soon. Glennon discusses how she has become fully aware of the way that society has taught women to be tame and how to become untamed (hence the name of the book). The book seeks to liberate women from the societal expectations that bind them, and to honor beauty and rage equally. I listened to the audiobook, which was read by the author, and I recommend because Glennon’s passion comes through. I will say, there were times where I got the vibe that she feels like she has this all figured out and is superior, which is why I didn’t give this book a higher rating. Maybe it is just me though.

#24: The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah

Grade: A-

Overall Thoughts: I LOVE Kristin Hannah and was so excited to read this book. In Hannah’s latest novel, a desperate family seeks a new beginning in the wilderness of Alaska only to find that their unpredictable environment is less threatening than the erratic behavior found in human nature. This book is so thought provoking and explores the complex family dynamic. You will go through a wide range of emotions reading this book, so be prepared! This book is good but not as good as my all-time favorite book by the author, The Nightingale, which is why I gave it an A-.

#25: Straight Up, Trent Shelton

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: You should get familiar with Trent Shelton if you are not already. Trent is a former football player who had to reinvent his life after getting cut from the NFL. In his latest book, Shelton shares his own story of finding himself and a better path forward, providing straight-up truths and uplifting advice to help you through the issues you face at school, at home, or within yourself. This book was good, but not as good as his other book, The Greatest You. You can follow Trent on Instagram and listen to his podcast, Rehab time for a regular dose of motivation.

#26: Sex and Vanity, Kevin Kwan

Grade: C-

Overall Thoughts: This book is NOT at the level of Crazy Rich Asians. I found this book very superficial and actually thought about abandoning it at one point. I felt it was unnecessarily long and just flaunted a lot of big designer brands throughout without really providing a lot of substance. Just meh!

#27: Party of Two, Jasmine Guillory

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: This is my favorite Guillory book so far. It explores the relationship between Oliva, an attorney, and Max, a senator. Things are a little complicated for this couple due to Max being so in the public eye, but they start to fall in love anyway. If you’re looking for a sweet and enjoyable romance that will leave you with a smile on your face, check out this book!

#28: The Other Mrs., Mary Kubica

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This book is CRAZY and full of twists and turns! Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from Chicago to Maine when their neighbor is found dead in her home. Sadie is disturbed by this and other things as well, including her creepy niece who lives with them. If you like thrillers, I think you will like this!

#29: Turn of the Key, Ruth Ware

Grade: C

Overall Thoughts: Rowan Caine stumbles upon an opportunity to be a live-in nanny to four children in a remote house in Scotland. Something goes awry and she is telling this story via letters to a solicitor while she is in prison. The buildup of the thriller is very slow, and there are a lot of twists and turns. The ending did throw me off so if you like a surprise ending you will appreciate this.

#30: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book and Jenny Lawsons over-the-top and hilarious depiction of her life. This book will make you feel better about your own life and many times you will think to yourself, “How could this have ever happened to Jenny?!” My mom and I listened to this book on the way to and from medical appointments and we laughed a lot.

#31: One for the Money, Janet Evanovich

Grade: B-

Overall Thoughts: A couple people recommend this book series to me, since many know that I love a good book series. Stephanie Plum is an interesting character who is beginning her career as a bounty hunter. The book is based in the early 90s so a lot of it was outdated. The book was good, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I would have read it when it was initially released.

#32: The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: My book club decided to read this book towards the end of the year. I read this book many years ago and decided to read again so I could be well versed for our discussion. I am not the type of person who rereads anything, but I am so glad I read this book again. I found myself laughing out loud, forgetting about so many parts of this book that made me fall in love with Don Tillman. I know I have mentioned this before, but this is one of my favorite books. Everyone in my book club loved it, and you should read it too!

#33: Two for the Dough, Janet Evanovich

Grade: B-

Overall Thoughts: I decided to read the second book in the Stephanie Plum series to see if I wanted to proceed with the entire series. This book was just okay. It was easy to get through but it didn’t leave me wanting more. I don’t think I will read any more of this book series, but I am glad that I tried it out.

#34: Deadly Cross, James Patterson

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: I love the Alex Cross series and this book did not disappoint. Kay Willingham led a life as glamorous as it was public. When she is found dead in a school parking lot, Alex has to solve the case. It was a consistent Alex Cross book and I can always appreciate that!

#35: The Return, Nicholas Sparks

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed The Return. It is is a typical Nicholas Sparks romance with two people that shouldn’t be together falling in love. Trevor is a great character who has to recreate his life after a huge trauma. I was curious to find out what Natalie was hiding and why she was so hot and cold. The mystery of Trevor’s grandfather and Callie was also very interesting. There were so many different aspects of this book that keeps the reader interested. This is a great “beach read” if you are looking for something less serious.

#36: Everything Beautiful in its Time, Jenna Bush Hager

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: Jenna Bush Hager shares moving, funny stories about her beloved grandparents (George and Barbara Bush, as well as her non-famous maternal grandparents) and the wisdom they passed on that has shaped her life. In this moving book, Jenna remembers the past, cherishes the present, and prepares for the future while providing a wealth of anecdotes and lessons. Everything Beautiful in Its Time is a warm and wonderful story about family and an exploration of the things that truly matter most. I highly recommend!

Recipe: Keto Cheesecake

I LOVE dessert. But if you’ve ever tried keto, you have experienced the limitations in this food category. So when a former coworker shared a cheesecake recipe that she modified to make it keto-friendly, I was very interested!

Making a keto cheesecake is actually the first time I’ve ever made ANY type of cheesecake. But since you are only substituting ingredients, I would say the experiences are pretty similar.

This keto cheesecake recipe is delicious and will satisfy your non-keto friends and family as well! My husband didn’t even know it was a “special cheesecake” until I told him.

And remember: making a cheesecake it quite a process so be prepared and make sure you read all the instructions before you dive in to making the recipe!

It is better to start the cheesecake a day ahead of time, as it needs to refrigerate for a least 6 hours.

Recipe: Keto Cheesecake

Serves 12

Chocolate Shortbread Base

Ingredients

  • 2.5 sticks of butter, very cold, cubed small
  • 1/3 cup granular Swerve
  • 3 cups pecan flour
  • 6 tsps. cocoa powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Work the butter, granular Swerve, pecan flour and cocoa with a food processor or your fingers to get a sandy mixture. Work the dough for a minute.
  3. Press one half into the bottom of a greased 10 or 12 inch springform pan.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes and let cool completely.

Note: You might have to add more pecan flour if the crust seems too mushy. You can also use almond flour – I prefer pecan flour. If you like a thinner cheesecake crust, you can use less of the dough.

Cheesecake Batter:

Ingredients

  • 4 blocks cream cheese, extremely softened
  • 1 stick butter, extremely softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup granular Swerve
  • 5 eggs, separated into egg whites and yolks
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch, sifted
  • 6 TBSP lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Separate eggs into egg yolks and egg whites.
  3. Whip the egg whites until very stiff.
  4. Combine the cream cheese, butter, granular Swerve, lemon juice, sour cream, and cornstarch in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until combine. Do not incorporate too much air or the cake will crack.
  5. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix just until combined.
  6. Gently fold egg whites into the cream cheese batter.
  7. Pour the batter over the chocolate shortbread crust. The batter will reach the rim of the cake.
  8. Wrap your springform pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.
  9. Set it in a large roasting pan, add enough hot water to come up halfway up the side of the pan.
  10. Bake for 90 minutes.
  11. Turn the oven off, crack the door of the oven open and let your cheesecake cool in there for 30 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and refrigerate completely for a few hours or better yet overnight.

Serving Suggestions

I hope you enjoy this keto cheesecake! I recommend serving the cheesecake with Walmart’s Great Value Sugar-free Whipped Heavy Cream and Walden Farms Zero Calorie/Zero Carb syrups.

Recipe: Everything Keto Bagels

Bagel

It’s a proven fact: Bagels are delicious.

After my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer during the COVID pandemic, I used this as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. I am definitely the type of person who eats their emotions and what better way to make myself feel better than by eating ice cream, macaroni and cheese, and bagels? While this was a quick fix in the moment, this lead to my stomach issues being worse than ever.

I recently started the Keto diet again and wanted to find a substitute for the bagels I had grown accustomed to eating. With only 6 ingredients, this keto bagel recipe is very easy to make and tastes delicious!

Recipe: Everything Keto Bagels

NUMBER OF SERVINGS: 8 

PREP TIME: 15 MINS

TOTAL TIME: 35 MINS

CARBS: 5 PER BAGEL

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 c. almond flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 3 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp. everything bagel seasoning, or more to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the almond flour with the baking powder.
  3. In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese and cream cheese. Microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until the cheese is melted and combined, about 3 minutes total.
  4. Scrape the cheese mixture into the bowl with the almond flour mixture and add the two eggs. Mix until well combined. Knead with hands if necessary.
  5. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Press your finger into the center of each ball and stretch to form a bagel shape. Arrange bagels on prepared baking sheets.
  6. Dip the bagels in the beaten egg mixture on both sides. Sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning. I put the seasoning on both sides of the bagel.
  7. Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Note: You can freeze and pop in the toaster at a later date!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you make them, let me know what you think.

 

Fish On, 

Misti

My COVID-19 Reading Recommendations

book book pages bookcase browse

2020 has brought a lot of changes on a macro and micro level. COVID-19 has impacted every facet of how we live and during this time my mom was also diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

In times of uncertainty, one constant for me has always been reading. I love reading because it is such a great escape from every day life. And who doesn’t need an escape right now?

I have completed 14 books already this year, which is higher than normal for me. Multiple times a week I have been commuting 2.5 hours each way to help care for my mom and this has afforded extra time to listen to audiobooks, which mode I support wholeheartedly!

Below you will find the reviews for the books I’ve read so far in 2020. I hope you find one that you would like to escape with for a while!

PS: Looking for more great books? Check out my 2019 Book Review and 2018 Book Review!

Fish On,

Misti
Party Girl

#1. Party Girl, Rachel Hollis

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: Did you know that before Rachel Hollis was a self-help guru, she wrote fiction? Party Girl is the first book in a three-part book series (and you all know I love a good book series!). The series is based on Rachel Hollis’s previous life as a Hollywood party planner and the lives of three best friends. The characters are delightfully complex and relatable. This was such an easy read and I highly recommend!

 

Sweet Girl

#2. Sweet Girl, Rachel Hollis

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: Surprise! This is the second book of Rachel Hollis’s three-part book series. I liked the first book so much that I immediately dived into the second book. Each book is written from the perspective of a different character. While I liked the main character of this book, I liked her more as the sidekick she was in the first book. However, it was still a good, easy, and enjoyable read.

Smart Girl

#3. Smart Girl, Rachel Hollis

Grade: B-

Overall Thoughts: This was the last book in Rachel Hollis’s fiction book series. I liked it the least. This book revolved around the last of the best friends, Miko. She is a strong, ambitious character who loses her way while trying to find love. I felt very frustrated while reading the book, but maybe that was the intent. It did have a good ending AND an epilogue, which I always appreciate. I still recommending reading the book to finish the series.

Criss Cross

#4. Criss Cross, James Patterson

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: If you’ve followed my book reviews for a while, you know that I love two different James Patterson series – The Woman’s Murder Club series and the Alex Cross series. The latest Alex Cross book does not disappoint. There is so much action and it ties up many different story lines. AND…the book ends with a huge cliffhanger! I can’t wait until the next installment is released.

The Greatest You

#5. The Greatest You, Trent Shelton

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: Read or listen to this book right now. It is so inspirational and wonderful. I first discovered Trent Shelton when he was a guest on Rachel Hollis’s RISE podcast and then I saw him speak in person at the RISExFtMyers conference in January. Trent’s story is incredible and he offers sage advice in a no-nonsense way. This book is such an easy and motivational read. And if you like it….check out Trent’s weekly podcast, Straight Up with Trent Shelton.

City of Girls

#6. City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: This was a really good, well written book. The characters were well developed and quite interesting. I laughed a lot, cried a lot, and was also in suspense. I thought this book was a little on the long side which is why I didn’t give it an A rating.

The Testaments

#7. The Testaments, Margaret Atwood

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: I waited FOREVER to get this book from my library’s waitlist. This is the long-anticipated sequel to The Handmaids tale. I really enjoyed the different story lines and the different characters – some new, some old. However, I thought the ending was confusing, very weak, and not conclusive.

Silent Patient

#8. The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: I love a good thriller, so I was very excited to read this book. It kept my interest and I thought about the plot a lot. It was an interesting story line. However, I suspected the ending about halfway through the book (and I was right) so I was a little disappointed by that! If you like this genre, it is still a good read that’s worth your time.

Heartburn

#9. Heartburn, Nora Ephron

Grade: C

Overall Thoughts: What do you do when your husband is having an affair, you have a small toddler, and another baby on the way? That is the premise of this book. It was recommend on many lists – including the Skimm reads where I initially heard about it. I listened to the audio book that Meryl Strep narrated. She did an excellent job. I was extremely frustrated with the main character, which I think was intentional. She is a food celebrity and random recipes are thrown into the book and a lot of the book revolves around food, which can be distracting and unfocused. At one point I thought about abandoning the book, but I felt I was already too committed. I think it is an okay read, but I was not super excited about it.

Get Out of Way

#10. Get Out of Your Own Way, Dave Hollis

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: Dave Hollis’s first book is EXCELLENT! It has a similar structure as his wife Rachel Hollis’s self-help books. However, his tone is extremely different and very relatable. He has a completely different perspective and point of view that is valuable, vulnerable, and easy. I took a lot of notes while reading this book, and I highly recommend for anyone who often finds themselves being their biggest roadblock in the pursuit of a greater life.

Such a fun age

#11. Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: My manager recommend this book and it was also one of Reese’s book club picks. I describe it as a beach read – something you want to read that is enjoyable and not too strenuous. It does discuss some serious topics but it is still a nice escape from reality.

Fierce

#12. Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire, Jen Hatmaker

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: I first met Jen during Rachel Hollis’s RISE conference in January. I really enjoyed her speaking style and message so I signed up for her email newsletter. When she sent a message asking for people to be part of her book launch, I was so excited and intrigued. I have never been part of a book launch before, but wanted to get involved. I was thrilled to be selected and received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of the book. It was so fun to be part of the book launch and the book was great. It was easy to read and had a lot of great takeaways and suggestions to be the woman you were meant to be.

Open book

#13. Open Book, Jessica Simpson

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! I waited for MONTHS to get this book off the waitlist and I was giddy to start reading. This truly is an open book – from her childhood, marriage to Nick Lachey, other relationships, poor coping mechanisms, and struggles with the music industry in general,she lays it all out there in an extremely honest and matter-of-fact way. My husband is probably so glad that I finished this book, but I literally talked about Jessica Simpson’s life every night at dinner. I just found it so fascinating and I truly admire her and what she has accomplished in her life, both personally and professionally. Side note: I listened to the audio book. This book is narrated by Jessica Simpson, and I must admit – it was difficult to get used to her narration. I felt like she mumbled and lacked inflection. But once I got used to her narrating style, I did appreciate her ability to stress certain points and convey emotion.

Educated

#14. Educated, Tara Westover

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: WOW – this book is so interesting and heart wrenching! Again, my manager recommended this book and I love a good memoir. If you liked The Glass Castle, you will like this. The author shares about her experience growing up in a Mormon family in Idaho. Her dad is bipolar. She doesn’t go to school and isn’t even properly home schooled. She doesn’t even have a birth certificate until later in life and nobody is even sure of her exact birth date. I won’t give away the plot, but she does eventually go to school and documents everything in this poignant memoir. It is really long so make sure you are in the mood for a longer book before you commit to it. I had to check out this book (virtually) from the library twice in order to complete.

My Favorite Book of 2019

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In 2019 I read THIRTY books. If you’re interested, you can check out the list in my reviews here. This is the most books I’ve read in a year in probably…well, forever!

And naturally everyone is asking, “Which was your favorite out of all those books?”

So here we are…I will tell you!

In 2019, I read A LOT of World War II historical fiction. That is ironic, because I am NOT a history buff and I have NEVER gravitated towards this genre in previous years. Life can be hard, and I use reading to escape from the stressors that emerge from juggling working full-time, parenting a small human, and all the things. Thus, I typically select books that tend to be more lighthearted and satirical.

However, my favorite book in 2019 was one of the historical fiction books – The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah!

Lost Vintage

I was truly moved by the historical portion of this book and how it tied in with the present-day story of a young woman who goes to her family’s home in Burgundy to study for her Master of Wine exam. There, she learns much more than just the history of their vineyard. The plot goes back and forth between present day and the 1940s World War II France. I definitely learned a lot about wine and saw the war from a very different lens. The characters were well developed and very interesting. The story is captivating and complex without being confusing. The portrait of the landscape of Burgundy and lifestyle of French winemakers is really transporting. I found the details of occupied France fascinating and it made me want to learn more about France during this time, about which I know embarrassingly little.

This would be a great book club pick and I plan to host a book club on this book in 2020! I highly recommend reading, and if you read it, I would love to hear what you think!

Fish On,

Misti

 

 

Misti’s 2019 Book Review

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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. And starting in 2018, I started posting my book reviews on my blog.

I know we are already well into the first quarter of 2020, but here is a synopsis of the THIRTY books I read in 2019. This is the most books I’ve read in a year in probably…well, forever!

What are you reading right now and which books should I add to my 2020 list? I am always looking for my next great read!

PS: Looking for more great books? Check out my 2018 Book Review, too!

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.

Becoming

#15. Becoming, Michelle Obama

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: This book was SO GOOD! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Michelle Obama and her life journey. I loved her writing style and that fact that she didn’t leave anything out. She clearly depicted her experiences in a very classy way while also expressing her feelings about every part of her life. As I was reading, I uncovered many similarities between Michelle and me. I highly recommend this book, no matter what party you may be affiliated with.

Wake Up Happy

#16. Wake Up Happy, Michael Strahan

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: This was a quick and easy read. I knew that Michael Strahan played football, but I knew him from Live! with Kelly and Michael. It was really interesting to learn about his upbringing, his journey to playing football, and then his experience playing as well as after his career ended. He had a lot of recommendations for how to me happy in life, but I will say his advice was pretty straightforward and simplistic. I didn’t give it an A rating because he skimmed over a lot of details about his life that would have been interesting to discuss. Also, I was hoping that this book would talk about how he left Live! with Kelly and Michael, but it was written while he was still on that show.

Paper Wife

#17. Paper Wife, Laila Ibrahim

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: I really enjoyed this historical fiction book. It was an easy read and honestly probably geared for young adults based on its simplicity. I learned a lot about 1920s Chinese immigration and Angel Island. The book also had a great epilogue which I always appreciate. I definitely recommend reading this book if you enjoy reading historical fiction and/or Asian-inspired books.

Before We Were Yours

#18. Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: This is probably my favorite read of the year. It is heart-wrenching and eye-opening. This book is historical fiction and I had no idea that this sort of thing happened in our country within the past century. I like that the book jumps from present time to the late 1930s. The characters are well-developed and it is easy to become vested in their journeys. I kept saying, “I will just read one more page!” I just had to see what happened next. This is the first book that I have read from this author and I am going to explore more of her books.

The Cactus

#19. The Cactus, Sarah Haywood

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: This book is very similar to “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” so if you like that book, you will enjoy this one as well. The characters are well developed and quirky. The main character is going through multiple life dilemmas and the author weaves them together really well in order to craft a memorable story. I thought the beginning was a little drawn out, which is why I gave this book this rating. Overall, I would recommend it – especially if you are looking for a light read.

The Bride Test

#20. The Bride Test, Helen Hoang

Grade: B-

Overall Thoughts: I was very excited for this book since it’s by the same author as “The Kiss Quotient.” The author used a similar style as her other book and thus the story line was extremely predictable. I did like the characters and there was a nice epilogue (you know I love a good epilogue!). In addition, one of the main characters is the cousin of Michael from “The Kiss Quotient.” This affords cameos of Michael and Stella so it was worth the read just to see what those two characters are now up to in life (they are doing well!). However, if you are expecting a book as high-caliber and page-turning as “The Kiss Quotient” you need to set your expectations lower so that you will not be disappointed.

Anger

#21. Anger, Dr. Gary Chapman

Grade: C

Overall Thoughts: This book described anger in a very easy to understand way and had a lot of great actionable nuggets that can be applied to your own life. However, I feel that the book was very repetitive and could have been shortened even more than it already is. I think it is worth a read if you experience anger and/or have people in your life who frequently exhibit anger, but you could read the beginning chapters and then skim the rest.

The Whisper Network

#22. Whisper Network, Chandler Baker

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: This book was an easy read and the characters were very relatable. The story is about coworkers (some who are friends) and scandalous events that occurred and the repercussions of said events. Since I am a working mother, I could easily identify with the characters and some of their everyday struggles of balancing work, family, and other aspects of life. I only gave this a B though because there was much of the book that I zoned out on. I felt the book was a little too long and there were too many story lines going on. I think the book could have been more targeted and captivating if it focused on a couple of the main story lines rather than skipping around from character to character.

Alice Network

#23. The Alice Network, Kate Quinn

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This book was really great! It looks at the spy network of women in World War II and also another story line that was also really interesting. This was a page-turner that I thoroughly enjoyed. This would be an ideal book club pick as there is a lot to discuss.

19th Christmas

#24. 19th Christmas, James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Grade: C

Overall Thoughts: Overall Thoughts: I was very excited to read the latest “Women’s Murder Club” book and I was a little underwhelmed. While it was nice to learn more about the characters I’ve grown to love, I thought that the story line was a little blase. I would only read this book if you are invested in the entire series (which I highly recommend!).

Last House Guest

#25. The Last House Guest, Megan Miranda

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: I thought this book was better than Miranda’s “All the Missing Girls.” If you like mysteries or thrillers, you will like this book. I thought it was a little drawn out in parts which is why I didn’t give it a higher rating.

Every Breath

#26. Every Breath, Nicholas Sparks

Grade: C-

Overall Thoughts: Nicholas Sparks got the idea for this book from letters he discovered on a beach in North Carolina. The book started out great, and I was excited to see what would happen to the characters. However, the book ends abruptly in order to “protect the privacy of the actual people the characters are based on.” I found this to be very jarring for the reader and made the book feel incomplete. While the book is based on a true story, it is still fiction and I strongly feel the story should have been elaborated on for a least a couple more chapters. I would not recommend reading this book.

Lost Vintage

#27. The Lost Vintage, Ann Mah

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: This book is definitely one of my favorites of the year! The plot goes back and forth between present day and the 1940s World War II France. I definitely learned a lot about wine and saw the war from a very different lens. The characters were well developed and very interesting. This would be a great book club pick and I highly recommend reading!

Target Alex Cross

#28. Target: Alex Cross, James Patterson

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: I LOVE the Alex Cross series but keep in mind, the series is very predictable. You always know that whatever peril Alex is in, he will be okay. This book does not disappoint and the ending makes you anticipate the next book.

Guernsey

#29. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This book is quite delightful! The book is a series of letters between characters, which I absolutely love.  If you don’t enjoy that writing style, you will not enjoy it as much a me. The characters are well developed and the writing is smart, witty, and funny. I loved all the information so subtly provided about the German occupation. It’s like a history book without the boring bits.

Lilac Girls

#30. Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This book is heart wrenching and well written. Since there are multiple points of view, it look a couple of chapters for me to be fully committed to the book. But once I understood the plot, I was hooked. The Lilac Girls tells the story of three women during and after WWII, and it was thought provoking to experience the plot from multiple viewpoints. It is centered around the Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp in Germany and the experimental surgery that the Nazis carried out on a group of Polish women. This is based on true events and people and knowing that made it even more gripping.

My Keto Journey…So Far

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Exactly two months ago I started the keto diet. Why? Well, for many reasons. I have suffered with digestive issues most of my life. This is typically exacerbated by stress and anxiety and these symptoms have been amplified since my dad committed suicide two years ago. I have done EVERYTHING to manage these symptoms—dairy-free, vegan, no pop, blood tests, colonoscopy, prescription medicines—the list goes on and on. And so when my GI doctor suggested that I try the keto diet to manage my symptoms, I thought “Sure, why not?”

I must admit, the benefits of quick weight loss was enticing to me as well. If you know me personally, you could probably be saying right now “Wait…you don’t need to lose weight! You are small!” But honestly, at the beginning of December I weighed the most I had in my life (besides being 41 weeks pregnant with my son). I am an emotional eater, and I definitely ate ALL THE THINGS as a way to cope with the loss of my dad. And then I started working from home and I became a sloth. You don’t realize how many steps you get from walking to and from meetings, heading to the parking garage after work, and walking to the restroom multiple times a day. In comparison, when I started working from home the closest restroom was literally 12 steps away. The culmination resulted in me being 20 pounds heavier than when I was before my dad died.

In the past two months on keto, I have lost 17 pounds and I am feeling a lot better. While the keto lifestyle is most certainly not for everyone, it is the right lifestyle for some. And here are some suggestions for success if you think the keto diet is right for you:

  • Track your food: For keto to work, you need to stay within a certain percentage of macros. I am to eat 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates each day. If I did not track this via the MyFitnessPal app, I would not know the breakdown of the foods I eat. Also, there are so many foods that I thought were low-card that actually were NOT! So, at least in the beginning, I was extremely vigilant in documenting what I was eating so that I could train myself on how to be successful with keto.
  • Don’t get discouraged: In the beginning of my keto journey, I love 8 pounds almost immediately. It was such an exciting feeling and it’s easy to stay on track when you have rapid momentum. Know what’s not easy? Staying on track when your weight loss has plateaued, when your family is eating your favorite high-carb foods, or when your digestive system is feeling crummy. When this would happen, I would say to myself, “What’s the point of doing this? This is not working for me.” And in the past, at this point I would go off the rails and eat a pint of ice cream, AND chips and dip, AND pretty much all the food I’d been depriving myself from. This time around, whenever I am in a slump I’ve been telling myself “Misti, you can get through this. Be patient with yourself. Be kind.” Or if I do fall off track (like this week, when I ate 10 Oreos when my son was sick and I was super stressed out and tired) I tell myself that this one setback will not ruin all of my progress and I can get back on track and make the right choices starting now.
  • Working out helps: There are some people who say that keto works without working out. This might be true, but I don’t think that you should stop moving your body just because you are trying a new diet. My goal is to move my body in some way for at least 30 minutes each day. To do this, I love the Peloton app and Beachbody workouts. I also love running around with Blake or swimming in our pool. I find when I move my body, my mental health and digestive health is way better and something I need to continue while I am doing the keto diet.
  • Keep yourself accountable: It’s helped me to be successful with the keto diet because I have let my loved ones know I am doing it. In the past, I have been very secretive with my digestive journey because I have felt embarrassed and did not want to inconvenience others. But my family and friends have actually been so supportive. For Christmas, my mom asked ahead of time what I could eat and made sure to have foods available for me. My best friend started keto with me. And others have asked me to pick out the restaurant before we eat out to guarantee that I have options. Also, I have found accounts to follow on Instagram that provide keto options and inspirations and this has been so motivational and helpful for me.
  • It’s easy to eat out: When I was on a dairy-free diet, it was really hard to go to restaurants with my family. Thankfully on keto, there are always some type of protein, cheese, and salads on the menu. My favorite go to? A McDonald’s Big Mac with no bun. When you do that, you will essentially get a Big Mac salad. It’s very filling, low carb, and my son loves getting a Happy Meal at the same time.
  • Test for Ketones: Each morning, I test my urine with ketone test strips. You might think this is gross, but it is really simple and lets me know the level of ketones in my body (and essentially if my body is in ketosis). It’s also really cheap—the bottle of test strips I bought was $6 on Amazon. I also have friends who test their blood levels, similar to a blood glucose monitor, my that really scares me.
  • Plan Meals Ahead of Time: It has been easier for me to follow a keto diet when I plan my meals ahead of time. This includes when I know I am going to a restaurant. But specifically relating to home, here are a couple of my go-to meals (and then I just add some type of carb for my family to eat with it):
    • Eggroll in a bowl
    • Taco salads
    • Philly cheesesteak salad
    • Caesar salad
    • Protein (steak or chicken, etc.) and a vegetable
    • Tuna salad
    • Bacon (not a meal, but I cook a bunch of bacon at the beginning of the week)
  • Have Easy Snacks Available at All Times: Most of life is about habits, and to set yourself up for success, you have to create new habits to set yourself up for success. During the work day when I was stressed or hungry, I would walk upstairs and get a couple cookies or some chips and dip. Not very keto friendly. I researched the best keto options for me and now I make sure I have these on hand so it makes it easy for me to make the right choices. What are those food options you ask?
    • Slim Jims
    • Sugar free Jell-O cups (lime is my favorite)
    • Cheese slices
    • Sugar free whipped cream
    • Cucumbers
    • Olive cups
    • Cauliflower
    • Coffee with regular creamer or sugar-free French vanilla creamer
    • Slim Fast keto bombs (Peanut butter or caramel)
    • Dry roasted almond 100 calorie packs
    • Crystal light
    • Pickles
    • Rebel ice cream (mint chocolate chip is my favorite)

 

This is my experience on keto right now. I hope this is helpful if you’ve been contemplating if keto is right for you. And if you are on a low-carb diet yourself, I would love to hear what is working for you and your tips and tricks!

I’m not sure if I will be on a keto diet for the rest of my life, but it has been a great learning experience for me to figure out what foods bless my body and which foods make me feel terrible. The word diet comes from the Greek word diaita which means ‘a way of life.’ I learned this many years ago, and this has always stuck with me. So many people view the word diet with a negative connotation, but for me I am constantly finding a way for my diet to be a way of life. It’s not a fad. It is all about finding foods that bless my body, and for right now, the keto diet is the best option for me and my body.

Fish On,

Misti

2020 Goal Setting: A Free Template to Map Out Your New Year

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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 2020, 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!

 

My Fall Reads Reviewed

 

person reading book and holding coffee

For two years, I have been posting my book reviews on Facebook in a Photo Album and I recently transitioned to posting my book reviews on this blog.

As fall is coming to an end, and the Christmas season is upon us, I just realized that I haven’t posted my book reviews in a while! Here is a synopsis of the four books I’ve read since the beginning of fall.

Are you looking for a new book and want to read other views? Here is a synopsis of all the books I read so far in 2019, and all the books I read in 2018.

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

Alice Network

The Alice Network, Kate Quinn

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This book was really great! It looks at the spy network of women in World War II and also another story line that was also really interesting. This was a page-turner that I thoroughly enjoyed. This would be an ideal book club pick as there is a lot to discuss.

19th Christmas

19th Christmas, James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Grade: C

Overall Thoughts: Overall Thoughts: I was very excited to read the latest “Women’s Murder Club” book and I was a little underwhelmed. While it was nice to learn more about the characters I’ve grown to love, I thought that the story line was a little blase. I would only read this book if you are invested in the entire series (which I highly recommend!).

Last House Guest

The Last House Guest, Megan Miranda

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: I thought this book was better than Miranda’s “All the Missing Girls.” If you like mysteries or thrillers, you will like this book. I thought it was a little drawn out in parts which is why I didn’t give it a higher rating.

Every Breath

Every Breath, Nicholas Sparks

Grade: C-

Overall Thoughts: Nicholas Sparks got the idea for this book from letters he discovered on a beach in North Carolina. The book started out great, and I was excited to see what would happen to the characters. However, the book ends abruptly in order to “protect the privacy of the actual people the characters are based on.” I found this to be very jarring for the reader and made the book feel incomplete. While the book is based on a true story, it is still fiction and I strongly feel the story should have been elaborated on for a least a couple more chapters. I would not recommend reading this book.

Lost Vintage

The Lost Vintage, Ann Mah

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: This book is definitely one of my favorites of the year! The plot goes back and forth between present day and the 1940s World War II France. I definitely learned a lot about wine and saw the war from a very different lens. The characters were well developed and very interesting. This would be a great book club pick and I highly recommend reading!