Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sunday Night Thought


Saturday, January 30, 2021

Links I'm Loving

 Did anyone else feel like this week felt unusually long? Personally, I feel like the whole month of January has felt like a year in and of itself. Maybe it’s coming off the holiday season, or all the events surrounding the election and Covid, or maybe just a combination of all the above, but I think this is the longest January I have ever experienced, not that that’s a bad thing, just weird. However, I am glad that February is just around the corner. I always feel like all the decorations {or decorations for any holiday really} just add a little lightness to everything! For now though, here are a few links I am loving from this past week!

One// SummerSalt Leggings

I am usually a LuluLemon person through and through when it comes to athletic leggings, but lately Summer Salt is tempting with their adorable prints and matching workout tops and bottoms. They definitely won me over this summer with their swimwear and I am starting to be tempted by their workout clothes and sweaters now…


Two// How To Make 8-Foot Ceilings Look Taller

I love decorating, following interior design Instagram accounts, and reading about interior design. This article has so many great tips on how to make eight-foot ceilings look taller, and taller ceilings or the illusion of, can make such a positive difference!


Three// Sarah Flint New Arrivals

Sarah Flint just released two new pair of shoes this week in honor of Lunar New Year and they are both just stunning! The red croc print is without a doubt a showstopper. If you are tempted… be sure to use code SARAHFLINT-BALAURENK at checkout to receive $50 off your first Sarah Flint purchase!


Four// Law & Order SVU

After watching The Queen’s Gambit I have felt so let down by the quality of all the other shows currently out there. Last week I came across an old episode of Law & Order SVU, and I don’t know why I ever stopped watching this show. I am pretty much obsessed with it right now. 


Five// Fresh Rose Face Mask

In 2020 for me personally I let a lot of self-care things fall to the side, just because I was overwhelmed with a few things personally and then add Covid on top of all the other extra things that were going on… I just recently started using this facemask again and I forgot how much I love it. This particular facemask can be used everyday and there is a noticeable difference in skin quality the next morning. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Favorite Winter Recipes

 Winter is like the ultimate comfort food season; bring on the pasta, pizza, and casserole dishes. I always rationalize eating a few a little on the heavier side during the winter months because you burn more calories when it’s cold out…right? During the week I always try to pick recipes that don’t take a whole lot of prep time, dirty up as few dishes as possible, can be done during a reasonable amount of time, and are undeniably delicious! Here are five of my quick {for the most part} and easy winter comfort food recipes. 

One// Chicken Parmesan Pasta Skillet

This recipe only requires one pan, five ingredients, is beyond delicious, and only takes 30-40 minutes, start to finish - this is honestly my favorite pasta dish of all time and always such a hit. Highly recommend!


Two// Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Okay… this one requires some prep time, but oh so worth it. Plus, it’s an Ina Garten recipe; so needless to say, these little chicken sandwiches are amazing. No offense to Ina, but in my book you just can’t top Chick-fil-A, but these come pretty darn close. 


Three// Blackberry Brie Grilled Cheese 

I feel like the two foods that no one ever really outgrows is mac & cheese and grilled cheese – you only elevate the flavors to match your mood. This grilled cheese is amazing! I realize that blackberries aren’t always available, but you can always use blackberry jam/preserves as a substitute {truthfully, I actually prefer the jam to the actual blackberries; it just makes for a better texture}. And the drizzle of honey just pulls the whole thing together. 


Four// Easy Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

I love, love, love this recipe. It is so easy to make, only takes 10 minutes {maybe} to prepare, and you just set the crock-pot and relax! If you think you prefer beef chili to chicken chili, you will change your mind after you try this recipe. 


Five// Peppercorn Roasted Beef Tenderloin

Tenderloin is like hands down one of the most essential winter comfort food recipes. This is so easy to prepare, and there is pretty much no way to mess this recipe up. Super flavorful and so tender. Save this recipe for a cold night and serve it with mashed potatoes – it will hit the spot 100% of the time. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Guest Post :: 10 Most Inspiring Workout Shoe Ideas

 January is such a perfect time to create a new set of habits and incorporate a workout routine into your daily routine. I always feel like one key element to workout is great workout clothes, shoes included. Today Barbara Martinez is guest post and sharing some fabulous shoes that will inspire you to workout!

If you are having trouble choosing the perfect workout shoes, this is the place for you. We are going to discuss the 10 most inspiring workout shoe ideas. You know workout shoes are pretty much necessary while running or doing any leg exercise. 

As there are so many brands with high-quality production capability, it is hard to list only 10 workout shoes. But here are some common and most bought workout shoes that can be discussed.

There are many categories of shoes. The most common categories are hiking shoes, walking shoes, combat boots, CrossFit shoes, workout shoes, etc.

Nike Men's Fitness Shoes

The sole is manufactured with rubber and the whole body material is made with lightweight upper material. There is also a cage available in the midfoot to lock down the grip with a stronger approach.

The firm foam is used to construct the midsole of the shoes. It makes the shoes even lighter and it feels soft on the inside. There are also some partial inner sleeves to make the fitting tighter.

Under Armour 2.0 Cross Trainer

The covering body material is made of fully synthetic material to maintain a proper air passing situation. The sole is made of rubber and the shoes consist of superior upwards flexibility.

The natural motion doesn’t affect the grip of giving any kind of interruption. The heel counter of the shoes is quite larger. Increased collar height ensures better stability while using.

Nike Men's Training Shoe Cj0813-400

The sole of the shoes is made of rubber and the wide-area can make any easy weightlifting. The straps are integrated with laces and the toes are completely secure while wearing the shoes.

The sole traction pattern ensures the all-time usability of any kind of gym workout exercise. The whole body above the sole is covered with high mesh material to pass the air easily.

Reebok Men's 8.0 Flexweave Sneaker

The shoes are made of textile and fabric. There is no extra material added while building the midsole. The basic sole is made of rubber and the tension taking ability is comparatively higher.

The shaft is measured approximately to the desired direction ``low-top" from the arc. The upper is constructed with a nano wave. The design is kept low cut to improve the balance while running.

Adidas Men's Adipower Weightlifting Trainer

The outer structure is 100% made of either textile or synthetics. The sole is a bit different. Instead of having a rubber sole, it consists of a synthetic sole. The overall support of the shoes is quite legendary for weightlifting.

The closure of the lace is quite hooked up with high tensile support. The upper side is made completely with woven textiles and has a very rigid grip. The forefoot and the heel is reinforced properly to increase stability.

New Balance Men's V1 Sneaker

The total platform of the shoe is around 0.75 units and it is supported by a very strong sole. The tensile strength of the rubber sole is quite higher. For the casual athletic user, this might be the best choice for you.

The color of the shoes is black and the look is designed with attractiveness. For better comfort, the cousin is constructed with foam material. The endurance of the below sole is quite high to take a lot of tension.

Nike Women's Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Running Shoes

The shoes are specially made for a training job. Because the stability of the shoes are quite impressive and can take a lot of load while using. The sole is made with a multidirectional split sole for better performance.

The impact absorbing capability is improved. The foot gets a well-alignment while wearing the shoes. The lacing is adjustable to use the upper sole as per need. The insole can also also be removed and replaced.

Puma Jaab Xt Sneaker

The whole body color is black and it is being imported from a well-known manufacturer. The sole is made completely with rubber and the tension taking ability is higher than any other product.

The measurement of the shaft is spread from top to low and the density of the shaft is quite nominal from the arc. The sneaker can be used for heavy running or continuous training.

Nike Men's Competition Running Shoes

There are 2 color combinations of shoes. The body color is black and the sole color is white. The whole covering area is made with synthetic material. To bring comfort, the midsole is covered with high-quality foam.

The TAU mesh is used to increase the durability and to make the product even lighter. The flexibility factor is also increased for the previously mentioned factor. The midsole consists of dual-density to increase the reaction taking ability.

Under Armour Men's Tribase Trainer

The sole is made of rubber and the body is fully synthetic. For this, the stability is increased and the weight has become lighter. The upper mesh of the shoes increases the breathability while running at a high speed.

The sole is manufactured by maintaining the UA tribes to increase the ground contact while using. This will cause potential movement while training. The cushioning is pretty much responsive and ultra-light.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Links I'm Loving

 This week has seemed like the weirdest week ever – Tuesday honestly felt like a Friday to me. I think there was just so much going on this week with MLK day on Monday and then Wednesday was definitely a day were people were on pause for a little bit and there were just a lot of pauses this week. I am so glad that it is the weekend and so hopefully that things will eventually calm down. I am so ready to step off the merry-go-round and try a different ride. Until that day comes though… here are a few links from this past week that I am completely loving!

One// Doritos 3D Crunch

Was anyone else such a fan of 3D Doritos back in the late 90s/early 2000s? I used to think these where the coolest chips ever – they truly were all that and a bag of chips! About two months ago I found out that Doritos was planning to bring back the 3D experience, and let me just say… they are even better now than they were before {I know, hard to believe}.


Two// 50 Things You Can Do To Be Healthier and Happier in 2021

I think it is fair to say that 2020 took a toll on us all – especially on the mental level. Some of these are just such great tips to make minor adjustment in your life to lead to an overall healthier outlook. I for one will definitely be practicing  #3, #17, #26, and #42


Three// Le Lion

I came across this website a few weeks ago and I am completely in love with their sweaters! The buttons, fabric, and the personalized monogram option is just perfection


Four// Ina Garten’s Mac and Cheese

Fact, every single Ina Garten recipe is fantastic. I like to think that you never outgrow  grilled cheese sandwiches or mac and cheese, you only elevate the two to match your pallet. This is the perfect grownup mac and cheese – easy and delicious!


Five// Rachel Brosnahan Insta Post

I am such a huge fan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I am just cannot wait for the new season to come out! Their filming process was a delayed due to Covid, so I was super excited to see Rachel’s post a couple days ago! 

Friday, January 22, 2021


 I was sent an advanced copy of Fractured, by Shay Siegel, back in the late fall, and honestly originally I was not too excited to read it just because it falls in the young adult category. Normally, young adult books are my guilty pleasure, but lately I have been taking a break from them just because the newer ones either seem to be shallow, lack substance, depressing, just way too out there, or the writing level is semi low. I didn’t have very high hopes for this book, expecting it to follow the formula of the newer young adult books, but Fractured is honestly one of the best young adult novels I have read. Highly recommend. 

I think at different points in our life we have all felt like we have been thrown completely off course by the unexpected. Relationships end loved ones move away or pass on, an unexpected job change, a move to a new home or town. In a way sometimes the unexpected can either make our lives feel fractured or that we have been internally fractured somehow. 


Mason Vance is the star quarterback of his high school football team with the expectation to one day maybe play in the NFL. However, we never know when an unexpected event might occur, including Mason Vance. Distracted by a cheerleader, he breaks his wrist during the Homecoming football game, sending him to the hospital. While on his way to his first doctor appointment Mason meets a girl, and the two events colliding at the same time force Mason to take a long hard look at his lifestyle choices. 


Lace, the only girl who doesn’t seem to fall for Mason’s pickup lines, too wrapped up in her own drama, draws out a deeper of Mason. One night an event happens that not only fractures Lace and Mason’s relationship, but Mason’s views. He calls past decisions into question, reflects on how he’s treated various people, his future, how to mend things with Lace, and wonders what his future will look like if he is no longer able to play football again. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

I Heart...

 I am so torn between leaving behind the Christmas decorations and entering into the season of Valentine. I seriously wish that everyone would keep their twinkle lights up till things started to bloom… they just seem to cast an extra bit of happiness in an otherwise gloomy season of the year. However, I can’t resist a holiday whose officially colors are pink, white, and red. I love how over the years Valentines has transformed into a holiday that really anyone can enjoy; it’s for the couples, for a group girls who wants to partake in Galantines, and a good excuse to indulge yourself and treat yourself to something you have been eyeing or have a spa day. 

This year there are so many cute red, white, pink, and heart shaped items out there, and I just couldn’t help but share a few of them…

One// Le Lion Petite Crew With Heart

I haven’t ordered anything from this company yet, but I came across their website a few weeks ago and I am officially in love with all their products and the special elements of detail they seem to add to all of their sweaters


Two// White Marble Heart Coasters, Set of 4

I am obsessed with Williams-Sonoma 24/7 365 days a year. I love all of their holiday items they always come out with, and these coasters are just too precious


Three// Paris In Color

I would love to go to Paris one day. It is the city of lights, love, dreams, and just so many other things; so obviously, I am here for a Paris coffee table book


Four// Watercolor Heart Shaped Stoneware Plate

As most of us know, Pottery Barn falls under the Williams-Sonoma umbrella, so of course they have some precious holiday items as well! This little plate would be such a cute breakfast or desert plate, and the shade of pink is just beautiful.


Five// Heart Sunglasses

I love how heart shaped sunglasses have made their way back around. These are just so cute with the tortoise detail and would look so great with a cable knit or a swimsuit at the beach!


Six// Sarah Flint Natalie Flat Twist Velvet

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I am such a fan of Sarah Flint. Their shoes are so stylish and all day comfortable. I love the shade of red they used for this design and the Natalie flat is one of my absolute favorite pair of shoes! Use code SARAHFLINT-BALAURENK at checkout to receive $50 off your first Sarah Flint purchase!


Seven// Return To Tiffany Red Double Heart Tag Pendant 

I love a necklace and this one is just such a fun piece to wear around the holidays and into the valentine’s season. Plus, for a tiffany Necklace it is pretty reasonably priced in my opinion


Eight// Fresh Day & Night Cleansing Duo

Fresh products are among my favorite products! I have used this set and they are both fabulous, and so great for your skin, especially this time of year


Nine// Roller Rabbit Hearts PJ Set

I bought my first pair of Roller Rabbit PJs back in October and I am completely sold on them! The fabric is like a small luxury and their prints are just so cute!


Ten// Generation Love Brynlee Sweater

Buttons, Ruffles, pink and purple combo – I am 100% here for this sweater! In my experience, Generation Love is just such a wonderful brand and they always go the extra mile with their product details. 


Eleven// KJP Sweetheart Dress

I always love all the holiday themed items that KJP comes out with year after year. This dress is just so sweet with its flowey fabric and heart detail print. Perfect for any Valentine themed occasion 


Twelve// Modern Love

I read this book last year and it is just such a beautiful collection of so many love stories {some happy, some sad} and lessons that you can draw from each one. 


Thirteen// L’or de Seraphine Large Soiree Candle

Obviously had to include a candle… the design on this candle is just too perfect for the month of February, and let’s not forget to mention how beautiful it smells


Fourteen// Golden Goose Superstar Sneakers

This is definitely a big treat yourself moment right here, but I feel like Golden Goose Sneakers are here to stay for the next few years in fashion, so the purchase can definitely be rationalized. I love the silver and white combo on these complete with the animal print on the back end of the shoe!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Guest Post :: Sustainable Fashion - 5 Ways To Wear The Change You Want To See

 Maybe I have been out of the loop, but the term ‘sustainable fashion’ is new to me. This is one reason why I always love teaming up to do a good guest post with someone – it mixes it up for you all and sometimes I even learn a few new things. Despite not knowing about sustainable fashion I have been doing some of the practices – I definitely have worn most of my clothing close to thirty times and I usually gravitate towards items that are on the timeless side. However, I have never thought to rent an item of clothing {such a great idea, especially for a special event} or researching sustainable brands. Hope you all enjoy Suzy’s guest post as much as I do! 

Standing at the dawn of another decade, there are no more excuses for us not to care about the planet. It is no secret that the fashion industry is the environment's nemesis. But together, with a little thought and effort, we can turn that around by choosing sustainable fashion. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a billionaire to dress sustainably. Here are 5 simple tips for you to do it successfully. 

1.      #30Wears 

The 30 wears challenge is quite an interesting one where you wear every item in your closet at least 30 times. And, when you go for retail therapy, ask yourself, “Will I wear this more than 30 times?” before tossing a piece in your cart. It is an easy-peasy way to adapt to a sustainable mindset. 


2.       Renting is the new trend 

For special occasions like our best friend’s wedding or that New Year’s Eve party we have been planning for the entire year, we want all the eyeballs on us. We hop from one store to another frantically and don’t flinch for a second to make a massive dent in our bank account. What for? For a dress, we’ll wear it once and show off our #ootd to up our Insta game for that night. Then, the dress sits in some dark corner of the closet and hardly sees sunshine for another day. An alternative to this chaos is simply renting a beauty. It’s way cheaper. There’s no commitment. 


And most importantly, it’s sustainable. So, if you have a special occasion approaching, rent your outfit. We promise you won’t go back to buying fancy designer numbers anymore. 


3. Find a tailor 

A tailor can do two things for you – 


· Refresh the fit of your ill-fitted clothes.

· Mend your clothes if they get a little tear or if the seams come apart. 


This is an essential step to keep you from buying new clothes unnecessarily. And, if you love fashion then, we suggest you learn the basics of sewing to be your own tailor. 


You can also be your own DIY designer and revamp your old clothes to give them a new look instead of constantly purchasing new clothes. 


4. Invest in creating a wardrobe 

Instead of buying cheaply made fast fashion based on the latest trends, buy clothes of premium quality that will last you a lifetime or two. Invest in your pieces that can be trans-seasonal. Some basics that are must-have for most wardrobes regardless of personal style are underwear and lingerie, a pair or two of jeans, t-shirts, shirts, coats, and jackets. You can click here for premium quality outfits. You’ll get the most wear out of these pieces, which gets better with every wash, instead of disintegrating into threads and pieces. 


5. Support sustainable brands 

Remember, demand dictates supply. So, do a little research on the internet to find out the top sustainable brands that are available in your country. And buy your pieces from these brands instead of buying from fast-fashion chains. Even a small step like this can lead to a major shift in the way brands manufacture their clothes. 


So, now that you are armed with these tips and all that knowledge, time for some actions! 


[Image Credit:]

Author’s Bio: Being the fashion editor of the widely read blog - the House of Elegance Fashion, Suzy Walsh is on a mission to change the way we look at fashion. She wants to spread awareness about sustainable fashion through her super interesting blog. 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

My Top 20 Books of 2020

 One upside to 2020 is that it provided plenty of time to read a little more than you usually might. In 2019 I had so many things going on I maybe read three books total for the whole year. I didn’t really start reading till about halfway 2020, but I was able to read about forty-seven books in total for 2020 and some of them were just really standout books. 

I always admire an authors’ ability to weave together a story and give their character various traits that either make the bounce of the page or feel like the best friend you didn’t know you needed. Since I read I few more books in 2020 than I did in 2019, I thought I would put a list together of twenty of my favorite books I either read or listened to on audio this past year. So… in no particular order, here is a roundup of my twenty must-reads from 2020!

One// The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah, is the second book I ready for 2020. Like 10 or 15 years ago, which now seems like a lifetime ago, I read my first Kristin Hannah book, Firefly Lane, maybe I was too young at the time to fully appreciate the storyline or her style of writing, but I remember thinking at the time it was a good book, but I wasn’t tempted to read another one of hers. A couple years ago I kept hearing such wonderful things about Hannah’s book, The Nightingale, and I thought that I give it a read, and I am so glad I gave her books a second chance, The Nightingale was an amazing read, amazing story line, writing, and just everything about it was so well done. The Great Alone is right us there with The Nightingale; her ability to tell a story and the details she works in is something to be praised. 


For Leni Albright, there was always a level of uncertainty to her life – she had been the new kid at school more time than she would like to remember and she was never in one place long enough to truly feel like it was ‘home’. Her dad Ernt, a former POW, came home from the war a changed man who is unstable and has a violent temper. When he loses another job and the opportunity to move to Alaska presents itself Ernt makes the impulsive decision to move his family to America’s last frontier. 


At first, Alaska seems like the answers for all they have been hoping for. The community is spread out, but made of strong men and women willing to help the Albrights prepare for their first winter. Leni grows to identify Alaska as home and finds herself as well as love there. Unfortunately, Lani and her mother soon come to realize that when the nights grow longer and darker in Alaska it only makes her father worse. The worries of bears, wolves, and other Alaskan wildlife fads once it becomes evident that her father only gets worse as the nights become increasing longer, an it is up to Lani and her mother to save themselves. 


The Great Alone is a story of how resilent the human body can be, how strong a person can be when they need to be, and how fragile things can seem. 


Two// The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pam Jenoff

One morning Grace Healey finds herself being forced to take a detour through Grand Central Terminal - where she stumbles upon an abandoned suitcase. When Grace opens the suitcase to find a dozen or so pictures all of young women. She quickly leaves the station with the photos in hand. A little while late she is confused as to why she felt so compelled to take the photos with her, going so far as to try to track down a proper way to return the photographs to their proper owner. 


Grace learns that photos belonged to Eleanor Trigg, who unfortunately passed away earlier in the day. Trigg was the leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during WWII to act as spies and aid in the resistance. With the help of an old friend Grace sets off on a quest to find out about the women in the photos, what they did during the war, and what happened became of them. 


The Lost Girls of Paris is so beautifully written and highlights the important rolls that women played during WWII. If you are a fan of historical fiction this book is definitely a must-read. 



Three// Where The Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

This book has been on my ‘books to read’ list for at least a year and a half! I actually had the audio on loan from a friend {for 6 months} last year, but things were so crazy I couldn’t even find time to listen to them… fingers crossed that 2021 doesn’t get any crazier than 2020… Before I start I have to say I am amazed that this is Owens first book; she wove every aspect together so well to create such an enticing narrative.


As beautifully as it is written it is also somewhat of a painfully sad storyline at times. The story is set in a small, rural, 1950s North Carolina town and revolves around the childhood, and later adulthood of Kya Clark. As the youngest member of the Clark family she is slowly abandoned by every member of her family, starting with her mother, than her four older siblings, and lastly her father who is the reason why the others left and why they landed in the isolated marsh lands of North Carolina.


Kya is drawn to the land and at times views nature as the only thing that has not left her. She soon becomes known as the ‘Marsh Girl” by the towns people leading to a feeling of further isolation and not belonging. Despite everything she manages to survive on her own starting at a very young age, turns her love of the marshlands into being a central point of her life, is found at the center of a town crime, and even manages to find love in more ways than one. 


This murder-mystery, coming-of-age, southern fiction novel is just stunning. Although heart-wrenching at times, this is an amazing novel that will no doubt join the ranks of such book as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Sound and the Fury; an instant classic. 


Four// Feels Like Falling, by Kristy Woodson Harvey

I love Kristy Woodson Harvey’s books for the spring and summer season. She writes the most perfect books to read while sitting on your back porch or to tuck away in your beach tote to late pull out and read by the water. Her style of writing unfailingly transports you to a new town and a set of characters that you will undeniably love. 


Harvey intertwines the lives of two women whose lives are in turmoil and their future unknown. This book just goes to show you that you never know exactly what is around the corner and people seem to come into our lives at just the right moment in time. This book will have you laughing, crying, and cheering for each character with each turn of a page. 


Five// The Southern Side of Paradise, by Kristy Woodson Harvey

This is the third {and sadly, last book} in The Peachtree Bluff Series. Over the year I have absolutely fallen in love with the Murphy family with their family drama, the different personalities of the mother, Ansley, and that of her three daughters that are intermingled throughout the family, and their lifestyle in Peachtree, North Carolina. Each book in the series centers around a sister – the first book starting with the oldest sister and the last book ending with the youngest sister, Emerson. 


Emerson is recently engaged to her old high school boyfriend, has been casted in the role of a lifetime, has everything right at her feet, yet something seems off…


This book is full of southern charm, page-turning drama, and heart-felt emotions in every corner. {A more in-depth review is soon to come!}. A summer must read, especially for those who have sisters in their family!


Six// Girl In The Blue Coat, by Monica Hesse

I think this particular book is technically classified in the young adult genre {make fun of me all you want, but I love YA novels; it’s my guilty pleasure}, and it is such a fantastic read, especially if you love historical fiction. 


Girl In The Blue Coat is set in German occupied 1943 Amsterdam. The main character, Hanneke, becomes the main finical contributor for her family. She works at a funeral home where the owner works in the black market. She spends her days procuring and delivering black market good to her regular paying customers. One customer, whom she knew before the war started, asks a favor of her that will lead her into more complicated waters and drudge up memories of her deceased boyfriend who passed away fighting on the front lines early on in the war. 


This book is such a quick read and will have you turning pages up until the late hours of the night.


Seven// The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett

I have gotten super into audio books. Listening to music while I was  working out or getting ready for the day started to make me antsy, so I tried audio books, and it’s so much more relaxing listening to a book on audio than music some days. 


The Dutch House is narrated by Tom Hanks and hearing him narrate this book just makes the whole story. The story is told from the perspective of the younger brother, Danny. The story of The Dutch House is spread over five decades. Danny starts at his and his sister’s, Maeve childhood. His father originally purchased the Dutch House as a surprise for his wife after he came into some money by making a few smart real estate investments after World War II. 


The house in one way or another takes more than it gives and for the most part Danny and Maeve can really only depend on one another. It is a beautifully dark story that will leave you mesmerized at certain points. 


Eight// Educated, by Tara Westover

Educated is another book that I listened to on Audio and Tara Westover does a beautiful job of telling the story of her life. It is truly amazing the amount of determination the human spirit posses and the amount of courage and perseverance it took Tara Westover to rise above and make her own way in the world.


Truly an amazing story; cannot recommend enough


Nine// Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate

This is such a well-told story that unfolds in a beautifully tragic way. I have heard such wonderful things about this book and was excited to finally read it. 


The story alternates between the late 1930s Tennessee and present day South Carolina. Before We Were Yours is told through present day Avery Stafford and 1939 12 year old, Rill Foss. 


Rill Foss and her four siblings live on the river in a shantyboat. On the night her mother gives birth at a hospital to twins, while still under the effects of medication she is convinced to sign her children over to The Tennessee Children’s Home. At first the children are assured that they will be returned to their parents, but once the truth becomes more apparent Rill tried with all her might to keep her brother and sisters together. 


Avery moves back home with the intention of helping her family through her father’s health crisis and possibly to take over his position. A function at a nursing home leads her to meet to Mae, who she later finds out plays an important role in not only her life, but also her family’s.


Ten// We Were The Lucky Ones, by Georgia Hunter

We Were The Lucky Ones is without a doubt a must-read! Any book that is set in World War II Europe, in my opinion, is a difficult subject matter to write about, and Hunter was able to do it in an almost poetic way. 


We Were The Lucky Ones is inspired by the true story of one Jewish family who is separated at the start of World War II and survive to be reunited at the end. It is truly a story of just how far love and hope can carry one’s spirit even in the worst of times. 


Eleven// Summer of ’69, by Elin Hilderbrand

Is there anyone out there who can honestly say that they don’t love Elin Hilderbrand books? She always does such a great job of capturing her reader’s attention and weaving the different lives of her characters together. 


Summer of ’69 is about the Levin family, their summer in Nantucket {who else could use a beach trip right now?!} and the many family secrets that will surface throughout the summer and how the family comes together to help one another. 


Twelve// Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train has been on my ‘books to read’ list for literally years, and I cannot believe that it has taken me this long to actually read. It is a touching read that demonstrates the power of resilience, second, third, and maybe even fourth chances, and the power and effect an unexpected friendship can have on your life.


Thirteen// The Things We Cannot See, by Kelly Rimmer

About two years about I read The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, and it is still the one of the best books I have read in ages. I have heard a few people compare this book to The Nightingale, so I obviously had to read The Things We Cannot Say. 


Rimmer did such a wonderful job of intertwining the past with the present and slowly revealing family secrets and a window into a young woman’s daily life during World War II


Fourteen// Next Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleeton

I listened to this book on Audible while I went on walks, and can I just say that this is a perfect book to listen to on Audio. With the narrator’s inflictions and accents it really did bring the story to life. 


The granddaughter of Elisa Perez travel’s to Cuba with her grandmother’s ashes, to scatter them in the place that she loved most. In her quest to do so, she uncovers the life her grandmother lived, her love life, and the political unrest that eventually forced them out of Cuba and to seek refuge in Miami.


Fifteen// In Five Years, by Rebecca Serle

This is one of those books that you can loose yourself in and read in one day, easily. It is moving, clever, and powerful.


Remember when you were fresh out of college or grad school and one of the first questions asked in an interview was “Where do you see yourself in five year?” Well, a very ambitious lawyer knows exactly where she will be in five years, but unfortunately {and sometimes fortunately} life throws us all a curve ball that might throw us off of that perfectly envisioned five year course we once had in mind. Truly a story that will be loved by all and will at times pull at your heartstrings 


Sixteen// Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman

I loved this book and the writing style of Backman. He added humor to moments and situations that shouldn’t have any humor to them at all, but this oddly just made the book so memorable, in a very good way. All I can say about this book is that everyone should give this book a go – highly recommend!


Seventeen// One Day in December, by Josie Silver

I have been meaning to read this book for years, and it was such a sweet Christmas story, that wove together friendship, love, family, and unexpected obstacles and sacrifices that must be made in life sometimes. It takes you through the lows and highs of life and is definitely a holiday must read!


Eighteen// The Magpie Society, by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch

I love Zoe Sugg as a blogger, a vlogger, and an author. She just always seems to have such a fantastic disposition and outlook on things, even during challenging times. 


Confession, I have read her Girl Online series and loved all three books, so needless to say I was pretty excited to learn the she was coming out with a new series and the first book did not disappoint. Sugg has coauthored The Magpie Society with Amy McCulloch and the two really did a great job with this first book. If you are a fan of Young Adult books and mysteries, this book is a must read!


Ninteen// When We Left Cuba, by Chanel Cleeton

This is a follow-up book to Next Year In Havana – it is the story of one of Elisa’s sister’s, Beatriz, who is a character that practically demands a book all of her own. 


The Cuban Revolution took many things away from Beatriz Perez, but most important to her, her brother. She is recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Castro’s inner circle and is pulled into the dangerous world of espionage. She finds herself caught between Cuban American politics and an affair with a senator, who just happens to be close friends with JFK. IN the end Beatriz is forced to make a choice between her past and future. 


Twenty// Such A Fun Age, by Kiley Reid

Does Reese’s Book Club picks ever disappoint? This book is so appropriate to a read and in timing with the societal views and times that surround us. 


Alix Chamberlain is a mother of two, married to a news anchor, and has build her success on a confidence driven brand, and encourages other women to do the same. As Alix seeks a babysitter for her daughter, she settles on Emira, who is a little lost in life, Alix of course only wants to find a way to help. Emira begins to date someone from Alix’s past, which unearths plenty.