Style, Surviving Chaos

2020 Year in Review: Favorite Books

Although 2020 didn’t quite work out the way we planned….we still managed to get some reading done. I ended up reading more books this year because we’ve been staying at home to stay safe. I found myself reading books in new genres like fantasy, historical fiction, books written by women of color, autobiographies, trilogies and more. Diving into a good book has helped me stay sane, especially during the chaos of this past year and gave me some me time away (self care) from everything happening in the world. It’s been a tumultuous year!!! Below is a list of my 5 favorites books from this year, some you have heard of and others you may not. Although these are my 5 favorite books, I did have some honorable mentions that are definitely worth picking up on your next trip to the bookstore. Happy reading!!!

Queenie” by Candy Carty-Williams

Queenie is a great exploration of being black modern women in today’s world. I was so glad to read a book from our perspective and dealt with issues within the black community that are rarely discussed. Summary: Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”


Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is a wonderful novel based with strong appreciation for the natural world. I really enjoyed being part of the main characters journey and she navigates childhood to womanhood, love and loss, growing independence and survival. Summary: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.


The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library was definitely a book that took me out of my comfort zone. A story about life, regrets and missed opportunities, this book will definitely have you reflecting about your own life. I love the philosophical nature of the book and all the lives the main character thought she wanted only to come back full circle to her own life. Summary: Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.


Behind Closed Doors” by B.A. Paris

If your looking for a good page turner, Behind Closed Doors is definitely it! I love the suspense of this book, the twisted nature of the characters and being on the edge of my seat. This book is definitely worth reading. Summary: Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.


The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season is book 1 of a great fantasy trilogy with lots of twists and turns. I loved the level of detail that intricately connects the characters and their story lines. Plus I love seeing the representation of my ethnicity and culture portrayed throughout the book. Summary: Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. Across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land to save her daughter.


Notable Mentions

  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruins by Roseanne A. Brown
  • Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • The Turn of A Key by Ruth Ware
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Style, When in

What’s in My Carry-On

What’s In My Carry-On

During these unprecedented times, I’ve had to rethink and revamp my carry-on bag for when I travel. As you will see, I have eliminated quite a few things and added some travel necessities. Here’s a sneak peek at my travel bag:

  • Sakroots Tote: These bags are the perfect size for travel and fit perfect under the seat in front of you on the plane. There is also space for additional items needed for long haul flights. You can find my tips and tricks for those flights here.
  • Face Masks: 1 to wear through the airport and on the plane and 1 for just in case….
  • Sunglasses: A pair of “sunnys” are always in style!
  • Tablet: Perfect for inflight entertainment and listening to my favorite jams.
  • Hand Sanitizer: This is a necessity! TSA is now allowing up to a 12oz size bottle of hand sanitizer per person in your carry-on. Don’t leave home without it.
  • GermKey: The perfect tool to keep you from touching dirty surfaces. Use it for door handles, touchscreens, buttons, etc.
  • Earbuds: So you can hear the inflight entertainment or drown our the snoring person next to you.
  • Scarf: This scarf opens up into a shawl which is perfect because it always feels so cold on the plane.

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Family, Style, Surviving Chaos

The Value of Reading

Times have definitely changed…..we’ve had to re-evaluate our priorities, change our mindsets, and hone in on our patience and endurance. Now that we are spending a large portion of our time at home, we (especially me) have discovered more free time than we previously had before. I’ve managed to squeeze in more reading time….not that I had that much before! As you all know, I am an avid reader (check out my favorite books of 2019 post) and will pretty much read any genre.

Reading has always been something I have loved and cherished; a easy way to escape all the chaos in our daily lives. But there are so many more reasons why reading is good for you. Reading literally exercises your mind and body…..it increases your blood flow and improves the connectivity in your brain. It literally makes your smarter! That’s a win win win! Your writing, vocabulary and spelling also improve; your work colleagues will be impressed! Reading also increases your cultural knowledge, especially with books set in other countries or written by authors from other countries. These are just some of the ways reading is good for you. With that being said, I am sharing my reading challenge for 2020; I’ve managed to check off a few items 3 months into the year. What books are you reading that meet this challenge? Happy Reading!

2020 Reading Challenge
Style

Christmas Decor 2019

Table Place Setting

  • Mistletoe Dinner plate (linked here)
  • Mistletoe 10″ Round Serving Bowl (linked here)
  • Mistletoe 18″ Oval Serving Platter (not pictured but linked here)
  • Napkin Rings (linked here
  • Table Runner (linked here)
  • Place Mats (similar here)