Top 10 Reads of 2020

A basic summary of 2020 for me.

I had to hop on here at least one more time this year to share one of my favorite posts to write annually: my top 10 favorite books of the year. In spite of all the craziness that 2020 threw at us, I surpassed my goal of 55 books and managed to read 57 books, exceeding the amount I read last year.

When it comes to picking these books, I take into account how well they are written, how captivated I am by the plot line, and – above all – how strongly the books made me feel. One of my reading goals this year was to go outside of my comfort zone genre-wise; based on my Goodreads list, I did a fairly good job of this tackling even some Sci-Fi reads — one of which even made my top ten!

Books & my pup are two things that helped me get through the year.

10. The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan

This was an enthralling page-turner that follows the glitz, glamour, and corruption of working as a pop group in the music industry. Cassidy Holmes first gets a taste of the limelight at 17 as a contestant on the famed tv show Sing It, America, but her rise to fame comes when she joins the group Gloss. Though a heavy, heartbreaking read, I found myself infatuated with the behind the scenes look at the music industry, and could not put this down. It definitely gave me some “Daisy Jones” vibes and took my back to growing up in the late 90s/early 2000s watching TRL and VH1.

9. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Riley Sager had me on the edge of my seat yet again. This is the type of book that you stay up reading until 1AM because it’s just that phenomenal. I totally got some “Haunting of Hill House” vibes throughout the book, but this story surpasses it by a landslide. I LOVE a good ghost story, and “Home Before Dark” has quickly shot to the top of my list as one of my favorites. Dare I say, this could very well be my new favorite thriller of all time😱

8. Majesty by Katharine McGee

Book 2 in the American Royals series was better than I could have imagined. Everyone is doing some growing up in this book — save for Jefferson **facepalm**. Beatrice is now queen and engaged to Teddy, while still trying to figure out herself and her role as the first female monarch. Meanwhile, Sam finds herself in a relationship with a new man as she’s learning how to properly be “the heir”, and Daphne is being the same old scheming Daphne. I’m so sad that this story is over, but I simply could not put this book down. I need book 3 ASAP!!

7. Beach Read by Emily Henry

If you know me, you know I’m not the biggest fan of romances; however Beach Read was the perfect escape I needed from the world right now and has to be one of my favorite love stories. I giggled, I scoffed at the cheesiness, and by the end, I was ugly crying.

6. Recursion by Blake Crouch

A mysterious disease known as “false memory syndrome” is driving its victims mad by giving them memories they never lived. Dark and trippy, “Recursion” left me on the edge of my seat from the very first page. I love the way Barry and Helena’s stories intertwined. I’m so glad I decided to step out of my usual book genres, and give this one a try!

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

In a time where Death is wreaking havoc on Nazi-occupied Germany, Liesel discovers a gravedigger’s handbook by her brother’s grave. Thus begins her streak of stealing books, and falling in love with words and literature. Wow. What a story. Books + WWII + an unlikely narrator= the perfect recipe for an outstanding book. I could have easily read this in 2 days, but I really wanted to savor this powerful story. I can’t believe it took me so long to read this

4. Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella

Cady Archer arrives at Harvard not only to follow in her schizophrenic brother Eric’s footsteps, but also to figure out what led him to his suicide his junior year. Cady struggles to find her way through the competitive academics and build a social life while trying to crack the cryptic clues her brother provided in a notebook. She eventually gets so swept up in figuring out her brother’s story that she ends up in a downward spiral in her own life – missing classes, ditching friends, and hearing voices from the ghosts that still roam the grounds of Harvard. She begins to think that the ghosts are somehow connected to her brother, but she finds that listening to them is contributing to her own demise. What she does find out about Eric is even bigger than she could have imagined.

“Ghosts of Harvard” had me hanging onto every word, and is another book I can add to my 2020 favorites. I adored the dark academia vibes with a touch of paranormal surrounding the mystery of Eric and what he got himself into. I eventually started to figure out where the story was going, but I was not expecting the final plot twist. I hope to read more from Serritella soon!

3. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

“What is a person if not for the marks they leave behind?” What a spectacular novel from V.E. Schwab! A young French girl makes a deal with the devil for eternal life, but the catch is that no one will be able to remember her for the rest of her days. When she finally meets the one person who can remember her, she’s bound and determined to leave her mark on history. Little did she know that she would find herself in a love triangle between a human boy and the devil himself. Beautifully poetic, I’m so glad I didn’t rush this so I could appreciate Schwab’s lyrical writing so much more. I loved following Addie’s story as she lived through poignant moments in history, and was left craving more.

2. What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

Anna Gallagher grew up yearning to travel to Ireland with her grandfather after hearing his stories about growing up there. Unfortunately, he passes away before they can go together, but his dying wish is to have Anna spread his ashes there. When Anna goes to his childhood home
to make it his final resting place, she manages to stumble back in time to 1921 – a tumultuous time in Ireland’s history.

Harmon’s writing is exquisite and atmospheric; the story completely envelops the reader and takes them back in time to a tumultuous period of Ireland’s history. Though it has some fantastical elements, this historical fiction was exactly what I was looking for after I hit a slump in the genre. Anne’s story completely captivated me from beginning to end, and definitely had me shedding a few tears.

1. The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

I’m going to try to do this book justice with my review, but I have so many feelings rushing through me. Emilia is a second-born daughter who believes in the family curse that she is unable to love or be loved. When her estranged Aunt Poppy writes to ask Emilia and her cousin Lucy on a trip to accompany her to Italy in order to break the family curse, it is an offer Emilia cannot refuse. Unfortunately, Emilia has lived under her strict Nonna’s rules her entire life, and she is livid with Emilia’s decision to travel with Poppy. Despite disobeying her grandmother’s wishes and ignoring her older sister’s advise, Emilia not only finds herself on the trip, but she learns so much more about her family history than she ever imagined.

Oh my gosh. This is my favorite book I’ve read in 2020. I simply adore Poppy with her tenacity, zest for life and love, and the wisdom. The imagery took me back to my time spent in Italy a few years ago, which was an excellent escape from reality in a time when we can’t travel. I laughed, I cried, but above all I did not want this story to end. It’s also an added bonus that the author is a fellow Michigander!

My TBR pile for 2021 is already massive, and I cannot wait to continue to share my reading list with you. To stay up to date on what I’m reading, check out my Goodreads page, or check out my Instagram stories. What was your favorite book you’ve read this year?

-K.

Our Engagement Story

Happy 2020! It only took me 3 months, but I’ve finally had the time to write out my first blog post of the year, and it’s an exciting one that I didn’t think I would be writing for at least another year. 2020 has been a whirlwind thus far — January seemed to take FOREVER and then February flew by and I feel like I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath lately as things are getting crazier because….

WE’RE ENGAGED!! 

It was a complete and utter surprise. We’ve talked about getting married for a few years now, especially after being together for 6 years and doing long distance for 4; however, I didn’t anticipate anything happening for at least another year.

For years I’ve told Ryan that I had a list of rules for when he proposed:

1.) My nails needed to be done – not hard since I’ve been getting them done religiously for 2 years.

2.) He had to ask my dad for permission.

3.) Make sure that there is someone there to photograph it.

4.) Please do not stick the ring in food.

5.) Don’t do it at a sporting event.

Seems bratty, but I know what I want and I’m always sure to articulate it. Plus, luckily for me, he abided by all of these rules haha!

Now that I’ve had some time to digest it — mind you, it feels like a dream — I still can’t believe how well Ryan pulled everything off. Everything was absolutely flawless! I never knew what to expect from him, but it couldn’t have been more perfect and well thought out. Going back to the place where we had our first date and really started to fall for each other was the best way to jump start forever.

How it all went down…

It all started earlier in the week when my best friend reached out to us and asked if we wanted to go ice skating at Campus Martius in downtown Detroit with her and her husband. What a perfect way to throw me off, right?! When the plans were set, I had a fleeting thought of, “how awesome would it be to get engaged where it all began”, then I completely forgot about it until following the proposal.

When the day came, we met at their house to all drive down together. Everything seemed so normal on the car ride, aside from no one jumping on my suggestion of Shake Shack for dinner, which I thought was odd, but I didn’t think anything of it. During the ride I recounted a strange dream I had the night before about a wedding. Again, I didn’t think too far into this because it’s normal for me to have strange, vivid dreams. I mean, really, I could write a book on all of these dreams.

We headed to the rink, strapped on the skates, and began skating. Mind you, I cannot ice skate to save my life, so it’s more so Ryan pulling me around the rink as I attempt to stay upright. As we made our way around the rink, I couldn’t help but think about how grateful I am that Ryan is so patient with me when we go skating (he’s a hockey player, so he’s pretty darn good at it).

About an hour in, I was ready to be done when Ryan said, “come on, let’s just do one more lap”. Hungry, tired, and with aching feet, I obliged. Halfway through the lap, he turns to me and says, ” you know that dream you had about the wedding? I think you had the wrong person.” As Taylor Swift’s “Lover” played in background, he pulled the ring box out of his pocket, gets on one knee, and asks me to marry him. Of course, I said yes!! Well, more like nodded my head yes because I was so shocked that I could barely speak. He sweetly asked if I wanted to put the ring on because I couldn’t pull myself together or comprehend what was happening.

Afterwards, our friends snapped some photos of us and we went to 24 Grille where Ryan made reservations for us — hence the Shake Shack rejection — which was absolutely delicious. It was so special to have our best friends there to celebrate this milestone with us!

We have yet to start the planning process since we’re currently house hunting, but I’m so excited to share wedding content as we start our planning journey. In the meantime, please share any of your best wedding planning tips, tricks, or resources below or on my Instagram post!

-K.

2019 Reflection & Looking Ahead…

Instagram Top Nine 2019

I was not initially planning on doing a 2019 recap post; however, when I reflect on the year, I realize how big this year has been for me. 2019 has been a HUGE year of growth for me both personally and professionally. A few highlights:

  • I received my first promotion as the Brand and Events Coordinator for the company I work for in March. With this promotion comes a LOT more responsibility and much more traveling for work, which is why I have not been able to dedicate as much time as I would have liked to the blog this year. I’m working on a way to even it out for the upcoming year, as I have a ton of content planned for 2020 already!
  • My boyfriend and I officially conquered long distance, and he moved home for good this spring.
  • In June, I took a girls’ trip to France with my mom, her best friend, and her daughter. We had the best time navigating the country traveling all around from Paris to Bayeux, Normandy to Avignon, and finally Nice and Monaco. I’m still sharing photos on my Instagram from this incredible trip. 
  • In July, Ry took me on a weekend getaway to Mackinac Island (I’ve always wanted to stay on the island). I also planned a successful destination joint bachelor/bachelorette party for my best friend and her husband.
  • In August, my best friend married the love of her life, and I had the honor of standing by her side as her maid of honor.

While this year brought about many highs, it was working through the lows that really taught me what I was capable of. 2019 also came with many tough lessons that have taken me years to acknowledge, but I will never forget. Between working hard and often, adjusting to no longer being long distance, reconnecting with old friends, this has been an overall fulfilling, successful year.

Key Takeaways

Not everyone wants you to be successful; in fact, most often have their own agenda. As someone who genuinely wants the best for others and will do anything to help them attain their goals, this was a hard pill for me to swallow. There were a number of times in my life where I’ve been burned from trusting people who I thought were helping me achieve my goals, but in reality, had their own selfish objectives at the forefront of their actions. Unfortunately, it took me this long to realize this. 

In addition, I learned not to take advice from people who are not on the same path as you. I’ve always referred to myself as a knowledge sponge willing to soak up any and all information and advice I possibly can. However, I learned that this can often waste time, brain space, and energy when it comes to attaining my goals.

Work-life balance. To be honest, I completely thought this was a myth in corporate America when I started my job. However, when I was consistently getting sick for the better part of Q3-Q4 this year, I realized that I’d be “on” all the time and had my work phone attached to my hip. It was then that I truly realized that I needed to set some boundaries, including turning my phone off and leaving it at home when I’m out on vacation and saying no when my plate is overflowing with responsibility. This is still a work in progress, but I am determined to have a healthier balance in my life.

Looking Ahead…

This is actually the first time I’m going into the new year with no idea of what lies ahead of me. I’ve always approached each new year with some pre-conceived notion of what’s to come. In 2020, I’m hoping to roll with the punches a bit more and tackle one challenge at a time. Ry and I are currently lining up our trips for the year, including my 26th birthday trip to Nashville! In regards to my career, I’m excited to return to work later this week with a rejuvenated mindset, ready to crush this year. In addition to my full-time job, I’m really looking forward to creating more content for the blog; whenever I found myself in a work-based funk this year, I realized it wasn’t because I was doing the creating that I was passionate about. Be on the watch for my 2020 goals coming soon!

Happy New Year!

-K.