They say whoever you spend New Year’s Eve with are the people who will stay in your life throughout the new year. I don’t necessarily believe that but I can be a bit superstitious so you can bet I want to be surrounded by those closest to me when the clock strikes midnight and the ball drops.
In the past, this usually meant putting on the sparkliest top or dress in my closet, maybe adding a New Year’s crown (because how many other days of the year can you get away with wearing a crown?!) and bundling up to celebrate with my friends and hundreds of strangers at the coolest NYE party we could find. This also meant starting my New Year hungover, broke, and let down because the reality never lives up to the hype.
I took a few years off from the NYE bar scene before making a rare comeback appearance last December 31. While I did have fun, it was hardly any more special than a normal fun night out with the squad but cost WAY more. Guess what? I woke up hungover, broke, and underwhelmed. So in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, this year I’m resolving to plan a New Year’s Night In!
One of the benefits of staying in is dressing warm and cozy! Have all of your friends wear cute pjs or plan a theme ahead of time! I got these adorable Wondershop pajamas from Target for Christmas this year and they’d be perfect for a NYE Girls’ Night In. Adult onesies are also a big trend for parties or family get-togethers and would be a fun photo op!
Movie NightThere are so many movies whose storyline or a significant piece of their plot take place on New Year’s Eve or Day. What better way to pass the time while waiting for the ball to drop or to wind down after the big countdown than a New Year’s movie marathon? In no particular order, here’s a list of some suggestions:
New Year’s Eve, 200 Cigarettes, Ghostbusters 2, Boogie Nights, When Harry Met Sally, An Affair to Remember, The Apartment, Ocean’s Eleven, Trading Places, Sex and the City, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Poseidon Adventure, The Godfather Part II
There are so many cute photo booth prop kits available these days so you can show off your #SquadGoals! Choose a corner or wall with plenty of open space that you can decorate. Most party stores have inexpensive banners you can drape across to set up your backdrop. If you don’t mind a little cleanup the next day, find some fun confetti to toss in the air or blow towards the camera for some extra sparkle. Then break out your prop kits and start making some memories!
NYE Drink Contest
You can’t have a New Year’s Eve party without some champagne, right? There are so many great holiday champagne drinks and variations of mimosas. Tell your friends you will supply the champagne and they can bring the mixers. They can bring a recipe they choose ahead of time or you can get creative and experiment with mixing your own new drinks!
After a few glasses of champagne, my friends and I are usually ready to dance. Some of us might be better than others (I’m looking at you, all my former dance team friends!) but hey, the beauty of dancing at home is that nobody cares! Find or create a playlist of top songs from 2017 and dance like nobody’s watching!
Share Your “Resolutions”
Making resolutions is a tradition pretty much everyone takes part in in some way. If these are the people who will be with you in the New Year, let them know what your resolutions are so they can help cheer you on! Have everyone share theirs and you’ve got your own little accountability and support group ready to take on 2018. Not a fan of New Year’s resolutions? Check out my blog post on alternatives to New Year’s resolutions here.
Brunch is one of my favorite things to do with my friends so it seems only fitting to start the new year by hosting my own. Prep an egg bake ahead of time so all you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven. Coborn’s grocery also carries an amazing cinnamon roll from Rhodes that are packaged ready to bake. Just remove the plastic, bake for 30 minutes, and frost! Finally, you can’t have a true New Year’s Day brunch without mimosas. Experiment with some fresh fruit and flavored juices for a fun twist on the traditional classic. My favorite is champagne with pink lemonade and raspberries! To make your brunch extra festive, serve your mimosas in festive glasses like these from Target!
Whether you are having a large party or an intimate gathering, I hope you find these suggestions as fun and festive as I do! I’m excited to start my New Year relaxed and surrounded by those I care about most! Cheers to the New Year!
What are your favorite New Year’s Eve traditions? Who do you most love to ring in the New Year with?
The holidays are over and the new year is fast approaching. To many, this means an opportunity for a fresh start with the promise of a new year just in front of them. “New Year, New Me”. I can’t even begin to tell you how many Facebook posts and Pinterest boards I’ve seen devoted to this mantra in the last few days. In years past, I’ve been just as guilty of this as anyone, if not more so! After spending a year really focusing on personal growth, self-care, and a healthy mindset, I’ve been thinking a lot about New Year’s resolutions lately.
Is it just me or do resolutions tend to focus on our shortcomings? Why do we feel the need for a new me? What’s wrong with the old me? While I completely embrace the idea of personal growth and development, it should come with the mindset of enhancing the great things that are already there! So instead of making a resolution this year, I made a list of alternatives to the classic New Year’s resolution that I thought I would share with you all!
New Year’s Bucket List
We’ve all at some point made a list of New Year’s resolutions and vowed this would be the year we would stick to them all. No really, this is the year I’ll finally do it! Then, after two months of working out four times a week, I’ll decide it’s okay to skip a workout. The next week, I’ll skip two because I’ll make it up next week. By June, I won’t even recognize the front desk staff if I actually manage to squeeze in a workout at all. And forget that resolution to give up Diet Coke and limit myself to one coffee a day…what was I thinking?!
What is something you keep wanting to do but just keep telling yourself next month, or next year. Maybe it’s to go visit your friend in California for a week or a new workout class that has always seemed too intimidating. Write them down! Make a list of 12 things you are going to do in 2018! They don’t all have to be as big as a trip but even learning to make your own sushi at home is a fun, rewarding accomplishment. Maybe you hate that new workout class and you never go again…but at least you finally tried it and now you know! Pick an item each month and get ready for a fun, adventurous new year!
New Year’s Passion Project
What would you do if fear wasn’t holding you back? Maybe it’s starting your own business or getting your yoga certification. It could be buying a house or going back to college for the degree you’re passionate about. For me, it was this blog. I must have asked my sister a dozen or more times over a seven-year period about how to set up my own website. What always held me back was the thought that my family and friends would read it and not understand why I loved doing this or worse, that nobody would read it! Sadly, we often don’t follow our dreams because we are afraid of “failing” or scared of what others might think. I finally quit making excuses and started a free WordPress blog (that I’m sure very few people read) to see if I loved it as much as I thought I would. A few months later, I switched over to this site with my own domain and I no longer care if people hate it, love it, or don’t read it at all. It makes me happy and I’ve never been so proud of myself for finally taking the leap of faith and doing it! The only person who might be happier is my sister because I no longer call her out of the blue asking how much it costs to build your own site!
New Year’s Goal
A lot of resolutions seem to be based on taking a negative and turning it into a positive or replacing bad habits with good ones. At first glance, it can seem like a positive change but will it really change how you feel about yourself? For example, I went through a rough patch a few years ago and put on some weight due to my tendency to “eat my feelings”. Just when I started working out and eating better again, I had to have unexpected surgery. Three years, multiple surgeries, and a LOT of emotional eating later, I’m definitely not at my ideal weight and not feeling my best about my appearance. In the past, I’d probably set a resolution to lose weight, cut out dessert, work out 5 days a week, and give up pizza. Not only is it unrealistic to change all of these behaviors at once but it’s not sustainable either. Life is about balance and I’m not willing to sacrifice my pizza!
The weight crept on because I wasn’t happy with certain areas of my life and I used food as a crutch. I felt as though I had lost myself and I didn’t even know what made me happy anymore. I began looking through old photos, searching for the secret to my own happiness, and realized how much I loved and missed running. I mainly did a lot of fun runs: it was more about enjoying myself than winning any competitions or setting any records. When I had my first surgery, I couldn’t work out for quite a while and I had fallen into bad habits that made getting back into the gym even harder. Instead of resolving to give up pizza for life (or even for January 2018), what if I set a goal to run a 5k? Build a training schedule, commit to the steps, and appreciate the progress and small victories. When I work out or train for something, I naturally eat better, but it doesn’t feel like such a sacrifice and I still allow myself those indulgences. Even if I only end up losing 5 pounds by the time I run that first 5k, I’ll still feel stronger, more fit, and more successful.
Write down what your usual resolution would be. Do some soul-searching to uncover what has hindered your success in the past and what emotions or underlying feelings you wish to gain through that resolution. Now, set an attainable, measurable goal that aligns with those habits but makes you excited to work toward!
New Year’s Word
I read a few years back that Mila Kunis chooses a word to guide her new year instead of making resolutions. A few weeks ago, I came across another article in which she discussed that New Year’s tradition again. If it works for Mila, my #wcw every day, it’s worth a shot for me! In the first article, she had chosen the word yes. When presented with an opportunity, she had to say yes (within reason, of course), even if it was something she might have shied away from previously. Unless it was illegal or could cause harm to herself or another, she had to be open to the experience.
It intrigued me then and, having stumbled upon it again, seemed like a perfect alternative to the traditional New Year’s Resolution for me this year. Luckily, I can’t remember her word choice for this year or I probably would’ve copied that too. I take my fangirl duties very seriously when it comes to Mila. Fighting the urge to track down the article for this year’s word, I’ve chosen the word present for myself. As a person who has been paid to capture moments on social media, it’s often hard for me to take a step back and just enjoy the moments. Even on Christmas Day, instead of being in the moment while my family made Christmas morning breakfast together, I was instructing them on where to stand to get the perfect photos for my upcoming blog post. This year, I want to be more present, put my phone down in the moments that matter most, and learn to really appreciate them. The memories of those experiences will be a lot more meaningful than a picture-perfect Instagram post.
Have you tried alternatives to New Year’s resolutions in the past? Are there any alternatives above you think you might use?
Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of the year but I’ve come to appreciate the time with family and friends even more recently. After many Christmases spent away from my family or catching last-minute flights to come home for a few short days, I’ve learned to value the little things and time spent with those I care about most. I was lucky enough to have a few extra days “off” this season and a shorter distance to travel. So here I sit on Christmas Day, feeling fulfilled after a weekend full of love and laughs, reflecting on the holiday traditions that make it so special to me.
Christmas Eve with my relatives
For as long as I can remember, my entire extended family on my mom’s side would gather to celebrate together. Before we lost my grandparents a few years back, there was a time when we had four generations gathering together each year. The significance of this has never been lost on me. My grandpa’s birthday also landed on Christmas Eve so we would get together before dinner to have birthday cake and he would open his birthday gifts. After dinner, the Christmas giving would begin. It has always stuck with me how my family ensured my grandpa and his birthday had their own special moment.
Now that he’s gone, we still take the time to remember my grandpa and his birthday. He loved his sweets, a trait that has definitely been passed down to me, and every year he was gifted a sampler box of Whitman’s chocolates. I will never see a box of Whitman’s without thinking of my grandpa. Each Christmas Eve, someone brings a box of Whitman’s with my grandpa’s name on the tag. So while my grandpa is no longer there in person, he continues to be there in spirit.
Christmas Eve with my family
After the last Christmas Eve gift has been opened and we’ve all overindulged on my cousin’s amazing sugar cookies, my family and I go back to my parents’ house for the night. While the activities vary year to year, the spirit is the same. There’s usually a Christmas movie playing in the background and nine times out of ten, it’s the A Christmas Story marathon on repeat. Sometimes we have a game night, dividing into teams in a family feud. This year, we made and decorated gingerbread houses: a messy but rewarding feat. The night almost always ends with my sister’s fiance going to bed within an hour or two of arriving home and my stepdad following suit shortly after, leaving my mom, sister, and I to share a bottle of wine and some cheesy, feel-good holiday movies.
No matter how old I get, Santa magically sneaks in during the night, leaving my sister and I each a larger gift and a Christmas stocking stuffed with smaller items. I still have a hard time falling asleep the night before, the anticipation of Christmas morning keeping me awake. When I was younger, it was the excitement of wanting to know what Santa was bringing and hoping I could stay up to catch him in the act. Now, it’s the feeling of waking up at my parents’ house and spending a day with my family that keeps me up. We still aren’t allowed to go upstairs until everyone is awake so nobody sees their “Santa gift” before everyone else. This usually involved me waking up at 6am and incessantly pestering my sister until I can drag her out of bed. Some things never change!
After we’re done opening gifts as a family, taking turns so we can see what everyone unwraps and receives, we have a special Christmas breakfast. In an age where we’re all so busy and my family is rarely even in the same state for a meal, I love having the time to share a meal all together. My mom always prepares a home-cooked meal and we all stay in our pajamas to enjoy a relaxed, family breakfast. A few years ago, I asked my mom if we could have mimosas and a new tradition was born. I’m a big fan of brunch and mimosas always seem festive and fun. But really, I think the mimosas just make the breakfast seem more of a special occasion and what’s more special than a quiet morning spent together as a family.
I’ve received some amazing gifts over the years but it’s these traditions that represent the true spirit of Christmas to me.
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Have you adopted any new traditions in recent years?
Winter in the Midwest can seem as long as the days are short. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing and it’s not always easy to stay upbeat and energized when it’s dark before you even leave the office. Although I love the holidays, I struggle every year with the gray skies, cold temps, and brutal winds. By mid-February, I’m counting the days until spring and fighting off the winter blahs. I have a tendency to go through periodic slumps and, as someone who feeds off light, these tend to occur most after daylight savings time ends. These are the tips and tricks I’ve found that help me get back on track:
Make a List
I LOVE making lists! Things to pack, things to do, goals I’ve set: you name a list, I’ve made it! Even more satisfying than making the list is checking things off. Who doesn’t like feeling that sense of accomplishment they get when they can check something off?!
Usually when I’m feeling unmotivated, it’s because I’m overwhelmed. Having a visual list makes me feel like the tasks are more manageable and easier to prioritize. Plus, if I see that one of my tasks is fast, checking that one off right away makes the rest of the list seem less insurmountable.
Take a Walk
Some days, I find myself sitting in front of the computer and realize I’ve been staring at the screen for ten minutes without typing a thing. Other days, I wake up and feel completely unmotivated, not wanting to get ready let alone leave my apartment. In both cases, I find myself feeling uninspired or unmotivated.
Nothing puts me in a new frame of mind better than some fresh air. My favorite sneakers and a walk around my neighborhood are instant mood boosters and much cheaper than therapy! At the office? Instead of trying to force yourself to push through it, get up and take a quick walk around the workplace. Go grab a cup of coffee or stop and say hi to a coworker. I always come back to my desk feeling recharged after a quick chat with a fresh brew in hand!
Dress the Part
We all have those days where we feel less attractive than others. I promise you, even supermodels have them. But that doesn’t mean we have to let it set our mood for the day!
Get up, dress up, and show up! Maybe that means wearing that one item of clothing that always makes you feel super confident when you have it one or spending some extra time on your hair that day. For me, I always feel a little more put together when I wear my favorite bright pink lip stain!
Change Your Environment
Not every day is the same and neither are my triggers. One day, the creative juices are flowing and I can’t wait to get home and bust out some content. The next, I’m back to sitting numbly in front of my computer without typing a word and no original thoughts. If you can’t change your mindset (or deadline), change your location.
Sometimes I work best when nobody is around and I can get peace and quiet. Other times, I feed off the energy and background noise of those around me. If I’m at home and not feeling the quiet, I’ll pack up my laptop and camp out at a cozy coffee shop. At work, maybe I’ll ditch my desk and set up in a corner with a view of the downtown hustle and bustle. You never know when a snippet of conversation or different view with beat the slump and spark a new idea.
Talk It Out
If the slump persists, maybe you need something more. Try talking to a friend or family member you trust. Call that friend who constantly inspires you or the one who makes you laugh so hard it hurts. Just talking things through out loud can make you view it from a different perspective or at least make you feel a little better.
Talking to a therapist can also be helpful. It’s okay to struggle with depression or anxiety or any other type of mental health disorders. First let me say, if you do, you’re not alone. What isn’t okay is feeling you have nobody to turn to or not getting the help you need. Not only does a therapist come with an outsider’s perspective but they have experience and resources right at their fingertips. Remember, we all deserve to feel good about ourselves!
What activities help you get over a slump? What are your go-to strategies for feeling more energetic or self-confident?
While this would probably be classified as a “lifestyle blog”, I feel like recreational would be a better term. I love sharing my hobbies, activities, and passions with you and hope it helps you find new books, restaurants, and interests as well! Some of these things don’t require a full blog post so I wanted to find a way to quickly share things I’m loving at the moment. Voila! Friday Five was born…I hope you enjoy these things as much as I do!
Kelsea Ballerini – Unapologetically
I’m “unapologetically in love” with this album! I enjoy all types of music and really find what I’m listening to reflects my mood. While you’ll rarely find me listening to a country station on my car radio, I do have my go to artists. Kelsea Ballerini quickly found a fan in me with her debut single “Love Me Like You Mean It”. I was pleasantly surprised to find I loved her second album even more than the first. On any given album, there are usually one or two songs I skip. There isn’t a single one on “Unapologetically” I pass by, although I do tend to hit repeat at least once after “Miss Me More” plays. The fact that Kelsea helps write her own music makes me love it, and her, even more! Can you say #GirlBoss?
The Minnesota Timberwolves
Clearly I am a sports fan, but if you have known me for any length of time, you would probably be surprised to hear me say this. Although I played basketball VERY briefly, it’s never been one of my favorite sports and I would more than likely keep channel surfing if I passed a game on TV. Credit a very good Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team and a very good friend of mine for changing my tune over the last few years. I now find myself screaming from the stands at Lynx games, speaking semi-knowledgably about the NBA, and even watching so-called meaningless games on TV. The Timberwolves, with welcome new additions, are off to a promising start and I’m glued to the action. Confession: I may be biased when it comes to the Wolf Pack.
When season two began airing on the CW, I had never watched an episode. However, pondering a dark version of the Archie comic book characters, my curiosity got the best of me. Three days of Netflix binging later, I had watched all of season one and was hooked! I love a good mystery and Riverdale, the show and the fictional city, are full of them. Some shows are just too predictable and, for the most part, this isn’t one of them. I now find myself impatiently waiting on Wednesdays when the newest episode airs. Bonus: finding ways to incorporate Veronica’s killer style into my workplace wardrobe.
Fur is looking to be a big trend again this winter and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it! I love finding ways to incorporate trends into my wardrobe without overdoing it. I think of my style as more classic comfortable with trendy twists. Think fur-trimmed hoods, gloves or vests instead of a full-on fur coat. A few years ago, I received a faux fur infinity scarf for Christmas (thanks Mom!). I’ve been wearing it for three straight winters now and, not only is it warm and cozy, but it matches my classic camel peacoat just as well as my girly pink dress coat or black moto jacket. Faux fur almost makes for trendy home accessories for the winter, such as pillows and blankets. My faux fur blanket is so soft I even have to fight my cat for it! It might be the bright spot in what looks to be an especially long, cold Minnesota winter…
Café Latte Protein Powder
I recently started a Holiday Hustle Health Challenge with one of my friends and finding ways to incorporate healthy habits into my everyday life has been a big focus (as well as eliminating the not-so-healthy). It’s no secret that I LOVE coffee and eating enough healthy protein has always been a weakness of mine. I also prefer flavored lattes to black coffee but usually drink the latter for more nutritional purposes. Enter café latte protein powder which I began mixing into my morning coffee, a tip from my friend who is also an amazing health coach. Now, I get the caffeine boost, the benefits of the protein, and the flavor of a latte – WIN-WIN-WIN situation! Plus, it’s a great way to get me going on the days I have to be up before the sun is!
What are you currently obsessing over?
A few years back, not long after I fell in love with running, I decided I was going to train for a half marathon. Never mind that I had never run anything longer than a 5k, this was just the new challenge I needed! If my stepdad could do it, certainly I could too… Fortunately, one of my cousins decided to get married the same weekend as the half marathon I had decided I was going to run. I had a handy excuse for changing my mind without waving a white flag. Because while my body was holding up to the challenge, my attention span was not. For shorter distances, my iPod and a running playlist were just what I needed to distract me from the distance ahead while motivating me to keep going. Trouble was, when I reached the point in my training where I was consistently running six or more miles, music just wasn’t cutting it anymore. While I’ve realized today that about 6-7 miles is my “happy place”, the point where I reach my runner’s high but don’t have a strong drive to keep going, this wasn’t the only time I found myself seeking something outside music to hold my attention.
Driving from western Wisconsin to the Twin Cities to Chicago and so on, the hours spent in my car have really piled up. I used to have satellite radio but found that, even without the dreaded commercial breaks, the music selection still tends to get repetitive after six-plus hours. You can only take so much of the same song, am I right?
Thank goodness for Adnan Syed and Serial, the podcast and court case that captured even the most casual podcast fan. If you’ve never heard of it, think “Making a Murderer” for your listening pleasure. As an avid watcher of Law and Order reruns and ID TV, it took little to no arm twisting from my friends to give it a try. I was hooked! Since then, whether behind the wheel or pounding the pavement, I’m constantly on the hunt for similar styles of podcasts to pass the time on the open road.
Here, for your binging pleasure, is a list of true crime podcasts I couldn’t turn off:
In the Dark
Growing up an hour from Minnesota, the weeks leading up to Halloween meant more than planning costumes and trick-or-treating. The abduction of then 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling on October 22nd of 1989 changed my childhood. It was the first time those of us who lived in midwestern small towns realized that maybe it wasn’t safe to ride our bikes in the dark and the “bad guys” could even be found in our own neighborhoods. It took 27 years to solve the mystery of what happened to Jacob and, coincidentally, happened during the making of this podcast. Digging into the investigation, this podcast leaves you inspired by Jacob’s mom Patty, frustrated by the seeming ineptitude of the sheriff’s department running the investigation, and horrified by facts and events that were never before connected to Jacob’s story.
Up and Vanished
Coincidentally, this podcast also centers around a person who went missing on October 22nd. Tara Grinstead was a high school teacher and former beauty queen who “up and vanished” from her Georgia home in 2005. Captivating from the very beginning, the podcast starts out with Payne Lindsey, the creator and narrator of the podcast, delving deeper into the original investigation and initial persons of interest. However, 6 months after the first episode aired, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is contacted with a tip about a never-before-looked-at suspect, leading the investigation and podcast in a whole new direction. Interesting connection: the best friend of Payne Lindsey’s grandmother was one of the last people to see Tara the night she disappeared.
Someone Knows Something
Contrary to the first two podcasts listed, Someone Knows Something has two seasons completed at the time of this post. The first centers around a young boy who went missing when he was out fishing with his dad and brothers. With no body having ever been recovered, one of the theories they look into is the possibility that he was kidnapped and is still alive today. The second season focuses on the disappearance of a young woman just days after she accepts a televised proposal from her boyfriend on New Year’s Eve. Her friends and family say she was not expecting the proposal and had told them in previous conversations that she wasn’t ready to marry her boyfriend, a jealous and controlling man with an unstable history. Interviews with the families in both cases leave you empathizing with their hopefulness, helplessness, and hunger for answers.
Accused also has multiple seasons and, although I’m just a few episodes into the first, I’m just as addicted. While the previous podcasts look into the mysterious disappearance of missing persons, this one examines cold cases that remain unsolved. Season one tells the story of a young woman who had just graduated college and was getting ready to move out of her college apartment to a new city and a new job. When her boyfriend arrives at their shared apartment to help her pack, he finds her dead and eventually finds himself on trial for her murder. After the boyfriend is acquitted in both a criminal and civil case, the police quit investigating, convinced the boyfriend is guilty and they just failed in bringing the victim to justice. Amber Hunt of the Cincinnati Enquirer uses her investigative skills to go on a search for the truth, if it can be found.
I’d love to hear from you! What is your favorite genre of podcast? Are there any you find yourself addicted to?
Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. As someone who loves to write myself, I love seeing a story told through another person’s point of view and being transported to a different place and time. Having lived in multiple states, I have spent more than my fair share of time in airports. For a time, it was sort of a tradition to head straight for the airport newsstand directly from the security checkpoint. I would peruse through the floor to ceiling bookshelves, looking for the perfect read. Sometimes it was the title that drew me in; sometimes it was the cover. I’ve discovered some of my favorite authors through this ritual and actually found myself looking forward to time spent waiting to board a flight.
However, most of my travel these days is between Saint Paul and Chicago. Although I am originally a Wisco girl, I also consider these two cities home and often find myself planning last minute trips from the Twins Cities to the Windy City. Since they do tend to be more spontaneous with ever changing schedules, I find myself driving more than flying these days, which lends little time to travel reading. As fate would have it, my last trip was temporarily derailed by a blown tire and I found myself with an extended amount of time on my hands while waiting for the repairs that would set me back out on my journey. I found myself once again scanning titles and covers, searching for the perfect book to salvage this setback. Although my choices were much more limited than at the airport newsstand, it didn’t take me long to settle on The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.
The Good Girl is the story of Mia Dennett, a young woman from a wealthy family who rejects and resents everything they stand for. The story starts in her family’s English Tudor home in a suburb along Chicago’s North Shore. Mia’s mother Eve answers the phone to find Mia’s friend Ayanna on the other end of the line. Mia hasn’t shown up for work and she’s not answering her phone. With the help of Detective Gabe Hoffman, it is soon discovered that Mia was supposed to meet her boyfriend at a bar but he never showed. She soon finds herself leaving with a stranger and disappears without a trace…
The Good Girl is one of the most riveting books I’ve read in a while and here’s why:
Although Mia is the main character, the story is told almost entirely in first person accounts of her mother, the detective, and the stranger she met at the bar the last night anyone sees her. Through their stories, we get to know a more complete version of Mia and who she was. Each of these characters is less than perfect but you grow to care about them, root for them, and through them, care more about Mia.
I didn’t know it when I chose the book but the entire thing takes place in Chicagoland and northern Minnesota. The author does an incredible job of describing both the bitter cold and yet, the beauty of Northern Minnesota, something only Minnesotans can truly appreciate. If you aren’t from the Midwest, Kubica does a great job of taking you there. In turn, her small but important details of Mia’s Uptown neighborhood and the Dennetts’ wealthy community make me feel as if I’m back in Chicago with them (which I actually was for half the book).
Alternating between past and present accounts of three different characters, this story could have been a confusing mess. However, Kubica does a masterful job of weaving the stories together in a way that tells Mia’s story in, not only chronological order, but a way that makes perfect sense. By the end, you completely understand why the characters made the choices they did and how they ended up where they are.
At just over 400 pages, this book is a long read but I found myself devouring most of it in three sittings. The chapters are short, most under 6-8 pages, which kept me wanting to know more. At the end of each narrative, I found myself saying one more, just one more, then just one more…
Because of work, I find myself with less time to read lately and I was less than thrilled to have a five hour setback on my way to Chicago. This psychological thriller was definitely the silver lining.
What are your favorite thrillers? Have you stumbled upon any books recently you just couldn’t put down?