Travel Resources

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Ideal packing list for roadtrip

First let’s talk about Tink. I wanted to ensure that she has all she needs to feel as comfortable as possible as I drag her with me on this adventure so I brought her bed along with the blanket that her sister put in her bed well before we left. I brought her toys of course! I also purchased these items that have come in handy.

The Dog Car Seat Extender – This is perfect for us! It gives her bed a proper base and it holds everything from toys, dog food, dog bowls, shampoo (she’s white so she gets SUPER dirty) right in between the front and back seat so it doesn’t take any extra room in the trunk. Then when we arrive at our location it’s great space to hold all of her stuff that we are not using but will need access to. 

CBD Calming chews – I give Tink these chews before we get on the road for a long roadtrip and also if I am going to be out without her for awhile (she doesn’t love being home alone in new places). She is  nervous pup so these chews work great for us. 

Now that Tink is taken care of, let’s chat about how I packed for a year long trip across country with all kinds of weather.

2 cozy, washable blankets (king sized). I put one on the couch in our new home and fold up the quilt on my bed and put the other one on my bed. The reason for this is 2 fold. 1, Tink hops in bed with me at 5 am every morning and she sheds so I want to be gracious to my host. That is the same reason I put a blanket on the couch. We like to snuggle and I feel better about that with my own blankets I can wash. That is the second part, I like to be able to wash where Tink and I rest. I vacuumed sealed them up, to save room! 

Small airfryer – I love my airfryer and it’s easy to clean up. I got the smallest version to take up less space and typically it’s just me, so it’s perfect for a meal for 1. 

My favorite coffee mug and coffee scoop (because regular spoons cannot be trusted) coffee makes me happy and one of my besties got us matching coffee mugs so it travels with me. 

Fire stick for the tv – I actually didn’t think of this because I wouldn’t but fortunately my boyfriend suggested it because it has been a lifesaver from having to set up each tv to my streaming services. 

Alexa – she comes in handy for my sleep sounds at night, to let me know they weather and what I have coming up each day, not to mention my grocery lists and figuring out what to do in the areas I am traveling. 

Water bottle – hydration is important and for me it’s imperative that I have cold water!

Now for my favorite part! Plastic shoe boxes but not for shoes. I labeled the front of the shoe boxes for items I knew I would want/need along the way. And here is what I put in those shoe boxes:

Kitchen – reusable ziploc baggies to hold leftovers, (ice when I hurt my knee), chopped veggies, salad stuff, reusable plastic to go containers for same things. Chip clips for open bags

Medical – ibuprofen, decongestant, tiger balm, lozenges, sinus wash, carmex, gavisgon (tummy) and a first aid kit

Mani/pedi – nail polish, polish remover, cotton balls, nail clippers, emory board, partial mary kay satin hands set

Correspondence – pens, stationary, stamps, scissors, long envelopes, checkbooks

Spices – there are just some things I didn’t want to spend money on, dill, chili powder and rosemary being those things. Ha! So i just packed a few of my own, they have come in surprisingly handy. 

Shower – razor, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion

These boxes stay stacked on the kitchen counter or bathroom cabinets so that I have the items when I need them and they are always organized. 

The rest of my items are clothing and shoes (don’t forget the hiking shoes), and I would leave the heels, you won’t need them. I vacuum sealed a lot of the winter type clothes so I could fit more. When I was in Tallahassee I decided to purchase a canvas car topper which has helped me immensely. It is lightweight and easy to store when I’m not using it so I have been able to pack it and unpack it myself. (although it is much easier with help!)

I have a ton of room in my car and Tink and I can spread out. Not to mention that I have a wonderful boyfriend and friends who are traveling with me from one location to another. 

Check out these bags I use to pack my clothes in. They are easy to tote, hold lots of stuff especially if you vacuum seal your clothes. 

If you have questions about taking off on an epic adventure, I’m happy to chat! 

Books to Read

Three Things About Elsie – Joanna Cannon *((this book will stay with you for months after you read it))

Eighty-four-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, she thinks about her friend Elsie and wonders if a terrible secret from their past is about to come to light. If the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago?

What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There – Marshall Goldsmith is an expert at helping global leaders overcome their sometimes unconscious annoying habits and attain a higher level of success. His one-on-one coaching comes with a six-figure price tag. But, in this book, you get Marshall’s great advice without the hefty fee

Declutter Your MindS.J. Scott, Barrie Davenport

Feel overwhelmed by your thoughts? Struggling with anxiety about your daily tasks? Or do you want to stop worrying about life? The truth is we all experience the occasional negative thought. But if you always feel overwhelmed, then you need to closely examine how these thoughts are negatively impacting your lifestyle.

The solution is to practice specific mindfulness techniques that create more “space” in your mind to enjoy inner peace and happiness. With these habits, you’ll have the clarity to prioritize what’s most important in your life, what no longer serves your goals, and how you want to live on a daily basis. And that’s what you’ll learn in declutter your mind.

The goal of this book is simple: We will teach you the habits, actions, and mindsets to clean up the mental clutter that’s holding you back from living a meaningful life.

Never Eat AloneKeith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz. **((great book to share with your freshly graduated kiddos))

Do you want to get ahead in life? Climb the ladder to personal success?

The secret, master networker Keith Ferrazzi claims, is in reaching out to other people. As Ferrazzi discovered in early life, what distinguishes highly successful people from everyone else is the way they use the power of relationships—so that everyone wins.

In Never Eat Alone, Ferrazzi lays out the specific steps—and inner mindset—he uses to reach out to connect with the thousands of colleagues, friends, and associates on his contacts list, people he has helped and who have helped him. And in the time since Never Eat Alone was published in 2005, the rise of social media and new, collaborative management styles have only made Ferrazzi’s advice more essential for anyone hoping to get ahead in business.

Contagious – Jonah Berger. 

Why do certain products and ideas go viral? Dynamic young Wharton professor Jonah Berger draws on his research to explain the six steps that make products or ideas contagious.

Why do some products get more word of mouth than others? Why does some online content go viral? Word of mouth makes products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. It’s more influential than advertising and far more effective.

Can you create word of mouth for your product or idea? According to Berger, you can. Whether you operate a neighborhood restaurant, a corporation with hundreds of employees, or are running for a local office for the first time, the steps that can help your product or idea become viral are the same.

Traveling Light Lynne Branard **((sparked my interest for cross country travel) 

Driving from North Carolina to New Mexico with her three-legged dog, a strange man’s ashes, and a waitress named Blossom riding shotgun isn’t exactly what Alissa Wells ever wanted to be doing. But it’s exactly what she needs….

It all starts when Alissa impulsively puts a bid on an abandoned storage unit, only to become the proud new owner of Roger Hart’s remains. Two weeks later, she jumps in her car and heads west, thinking that returning the ashes of a dead man might be the first step on her way to a new life. She isn’t wrong. Especially when Blossom, who just graduated from high school, hitches a ride with her to Texas, and Alissa has to get used to letting someone else take the wheel. Posting about their road trip on Facebook, complete with photos of Roger at every stop, Blossom opens Alissa’s eyes to the road in front of her – and to how sometimes the best things in life are the ones you never see coming.

My Not So Perfect LifeSophie Kinsella

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle – from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet – not to mention a possible new romance – the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away – until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

My Dear Hamilton Stephanie Dray 

From the New York Times best-selling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton – a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. In this haunting, moving, and beautifully written book, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before – not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right. 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineGail Honeyman 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . 

Almost SistersJoshilyn Jackson 

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy – an unexpected but not unhappy development in the 38-year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional Southern family, her stepsister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved 90-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.

The Alice Network – Kate Quinn. 

It’s 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

It’s 1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

Blue ZonesDan Buettner 

Award-winning author and researcher Dan Buettner has traveled the world to meet the planet’s longest-lived people, and learned nine powerful yet simple lessons that could put you on the path to longer life. Where did he find them? In the Blue Zones.

Blue Zones are communities where common elements of lifestyle, diet, and outlook have led to an amazing quantity – and quality – of life. Dan Buettner shares the secrets from four of the world’s Blue Zones. Buettner’s extensive study uncovers how these people manage to live longer and better, but found in the everyday things they do: the food they eat, the company they keep, and their very perspectives on life. In The Blue Zones, they become yours to follow for life!

Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens. 

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. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

An American Marriage – Tayari Jones

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. 

Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together. 

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward – with hope and pain – into the future. 

The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

Alaska, 1974. Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.

For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: He will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. 

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in 18 hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: They are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves. 

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska – a place of incomparable beauty and danger. 

The Missing SisterElle Marr

Shayna Darby is finally coming to terms with her parents’ deaths when she’s delivered another blow. The body of her estranged twin sister, Angela – the possible victim of a serial killer – has been pulled from the Seine. Putting what’s left of her life on hold, Shayna heads to Paris. But while cleaning out Angela’s apartment, Shayna makes a startling discovery: a coded message meant for her alone…

Alive. Trust no one.

Taking the warning to heart, Shayna maintains the lie. She makes a positive ID on the remains and works to find out where – and why – her missing sister is hiding. Shayna retraces her sister’s footsteps, and they lead her down into Paris’s underbelly.

The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton

England, 1959: Laurel Nicolson is 16 years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.

Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to Green Acres for Dorothy’s 90th birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by memories and questions she has not thought about for decades. She decides to find out the truth about the events of that summer day and lay to rest her own feelings of guilt. One photograph, of her mother and a woman Laurel has never met, called Vivian, is her first clue.

The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths some people go to fulfill them, and the strange consequences they sometimes have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers and schemers, play-acting, and deception told against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

Breakthrough:  Eight steps to Wellness Suzanne Somers

People are suffering and many haven’t had access to the treatment they truly need to get better. Until now.

In interviews with the most progressive doctors in the field of antiaging medicine, #1 New York Times bestselling author and women’s health pioneer Suzanne Somers uncovers enlightening, lifesaving information for a natural, drug-free approach to living. Spending the time that you just won’t have with your own doctor in today’s challenged medical environment, she shares the 8 STEPS TO WELLNESS that form the cornerstone of breakthrough medicine.

The Hideaway Lauren K Denton

In the South, family is always more complicated than it seems.

After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed The Hideaway to her and charged her with renovating it — no small task considering her grandmother’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.

Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid drywall dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.

Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed her grandmother’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.

When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice — stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.

The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek Kim Michele Richardson

The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything – everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter. 

Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler. 

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere – even back home.

The Henna Artist Alka Joshi **((unlike any characters I have read, loved this book)

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist – and confidante – to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own….

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow – a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

The Four Winds Kristin Hannah **((learned something new about the dust bowl and the plight of those affected)

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa- like so many of her neighbors – must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Midnight Library Matt Haig **((inspired and affected all of us, this was the fav for several members)

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting blockbuster novel, 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.

Far Outside the Ordinary Prissy Elrod

An emotionally honest account, Far Outside the Ordinary has been described by some as Steel Magnolias meets The Help. It chronicles the period in Prissy Elrod’s life, when during a routine physical, her fifty-year-old husband is diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer and given less than a year to live. Never one to take no for an answer, and driven by hope and her strong faith, Prissy is determined to save her beloved husband and the father of their two daughters. She is a strong, tenacious woman who doesn’t accept the diagnosis. Guided by their faith, hope, and love, the two of them spend the next year searching for a medical miracle. Prissy believes her husband will recover and that somehow she can save him.

Despite her extraordinary efforts, her husband’s health deteriorates and Prissy has no choice but to find cancer caregivers. She hires two southern black caregivers after a friend’s recommendation. The “Angel of Death” moves into her home in Tallahassee, Florida, and works around the clock to aid her family and care for her dying husband. Soon, Prissy finds herself a spectator in her own home, observing events far outside the boundaries of her once ordinary life.

All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is 12, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel. 

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Finding Chika Mitch Albom (** be prepared to cry like a baby)

Chika Jeune was born three days before the devastating earthquake that decimated Haiti in 2010. She spent her infancy in a landscape of extreme poverty, and when her mother died giving birth to a baby brother, Chika was brought to The Have Faith Haiti Orphanage that Albom operates in Port Au Prince.

With no children of their own, the 40-plus children who live, play, and go to school at the orphanage have become family to Mitch and his wife, Janine. Chika’s arrival makes a quick impression. Brave and self-assured, even as a three-year-old, she delights the other kids and teachers. But at age five, Chika is suddenly diagnosed with something a doctor there says “no one in Haiti can help you with.”

Mitch and Janine bring Chika to Detroit, hopeful that American medical care can soon return her to her homeland. Instead, Chika becomes a permanent part of their household, and their lives, as they embark on a two-year, around-the-world journey to find a cure. As Chika’s boundless optimism and humor teach Mitch the joys of caring for a child, he learns that a relationship built on love, no matter what blows it takes, can never be lost.

Told in hindsight, and through illuminating conversations with Chika herself, this is Albom at his most poignant and vulnerable. Finding Chika is a celebration of a girl, her adoptive guardians, and the incredible bond they formed – a devastatingly beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family, regardless of how it is made.

The Lost Apothecary Sarah Penner**((my favorite read of 2021)

Hidden in the depths of 18th-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious 12-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London 200 years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate – and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters, and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance, and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.

The Last Flight Julie Clark **((hard to put down))

Two women. Two flights. One last chance to disappear.  

Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of 10, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he’s not above using his staff to track Claire’s every move, making sure she’s living up to his impossible standards. But what he doesn’t know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.  

A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets – Claire taking Eva’s flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. They believe the swap will give each of them the head start they need to begin again somewhere far away. But when the flight to Puerto Rico goes down, Claire realizes it’s no longer a head start but a new life. Cut off, out of options, with the news of her death about to explode in the media, Claire will assume Eva’s identity, and along with it, the secrets Eva fought so hard to keep hidden.  

**All book excerpts are from Amazon and if you purchase from this page I do receive a small commission. I have read ALL of these books!

There are a ton more but these should give you a great start and spark some very interesting conversations among your friends.