Category Archives: Year-End Recaps

I Read A Lot – Here Are My Favorite Books from 2014.

In the spirit of the 2014 round-up posts, I figured that since I’m always reading, it’s only proper for me to include my favorite books of 2014. Which, let me tell you, was quite the feat. I may not read as much as some of those book bloggers out there, but I read around 80 books this year so narrowing that down to my top favorites was pretty difficult.

Enjoy!


Top Books of 2014Unsplash

The Girl You Left Behind – JoJo Moyes: I started to get more into historical fiction right after I bought my first nook. I discovered JoJo Moyes in 2013 after reading ‘The Last Letter from Your Lover’ and instantly fell in love with her writing style. This book was no different. An incredible love story surrounding a painting of Sophie Lefevre (painted by her husband) set in Europe during the first World War, and then the book fast-forwards nearly 100 years later, intertwining the lives of two young woman who are determined the fight for the thing they love the most. This one grabbed me by the heart and wouldn’t let go.

Orphan Train– Christina Baker Kline: I could not put this book down. It captures the story of an unlikely friendship between a troubled teenage girl and a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider. I don’t want to give too much away excerpt to say, if you haven’t read this yet, run out, or purchase it for your e-reader. You won’t be disappointed.

Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel– Kimberly McCreight: Another read I could not put down. This is a heart-wrenching read but so well-written and just an incredible story in which a single mother reconstructs her teenaged daughter’s life through e-mails, text, and social media, after she receives a call that her daughter has committed suicide while at school. I can guarantee you won’t put this one down either.

A Discovery of Witches– Deborah Harkness: I had this book sitting on my NookBook wishlist, well since I bought my first nook in 2010. I finally decided to buy it when I heard rave reviews of the entire series at work. While the book is long (like 600 + pages long), it certainly didn’t feel that way. Sure it took me a couple of weeks to read, but I didn’t want it to end! But I was in luck, since it’s the first of three books. I’m not a huge fan of vampires and witchy-type books, but this book had me from the first chapter. If you’re like me and stay away from the Twilight phenomenon (even though I hate to admit I’ve read those too), take a few minutes to at least read a sample. I promise you, you will not be disappointed! I’m even holding off on reading the final book so the trilogy doesn’t end!

The Perfume Collector– Kathleen Tessaro: Again, I discovered a love for historical fiction in the last couple of years, and this was another that I utterly fell in love with. It brought into a world of glamour and mystery, along with sophisticated social circles in London and Paris in the 1950s. It’s charming and unforgettable, and something I would even consider re-reading. Which is rare for me. That’s how much I loved this book.

Stronger– Jeff Bauman: I’ll never forget the Boston Marathon Bombings. I may not have been in the city that day, but it certainly effected my life. For one thing, it seemed that everyone knew someone there that day. I knew several people attending, and watching. It also seemed that there was a small degree of separation between you and a person injured. Jeff went to high school with friends of mine from college. People I know well, knew him personally.  I wanted nothing more than to find a way to help those injured, but I all I could do was send healing thoughts. In that first week after the bombings, my mind was constantly on those injured. And even a year later, I thought about them often. This book chronicled Jeff’s life a little before the bombing, but more so after. And it was inspiring. Absolutely inspiring.

The Art Forger– B.A. Shapiro: I found this book as a cheap find on Barnes & Noble. I wasn’t sure what to think of it when I first got it, but wanted to give it a try since it’s set in Boston and the plot is based off the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist. I can easily tell you that this book quickly became one of the best books I had read in 2014, and that was back in July! It’s beautifully written, descriptive and with characters you will adore.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think– Brian Wansink: I love to eat. And I’m really guilty of eating when I don’t even realize it. I know, crazy right. But I’ll find myself snacking, when I’m not even really that hungry. It’s just something to do. This book really opened my eyes to how to eat, what I’m eating and the psychology behind it all. I’m definitely far more conscious about what and how I’m eating now!

Little Mercies– Heather Gudenkauf: I’ve raved about Heather Gudenkauf before on here. I love her. She’s easily one of my favorite authors out there right now. Her books remind me a bit of Jodi Picoult, they always discuss a really tough subject, but she approaches it with such care and concern. This book was no different than her previous. This book’s plot is based around a social worker who is a children’s advocate and has seen some of the worst cases in history. She’s a devoted wife and mother. But then one moment of distraction caused her entire life to shatter. Read this, and every other book by her you can get your hands on. She’s incredible.

Life After Life – Kate Atkinson: This was unlike any book I’ve ever read before. What I loved about this particular book was that just as a story was taking a turn for the worst, it ends and a new one begins. What I found was that as a particular story was about to end, there were times when I wanted it too. Was the story an uninteresting one? No, it was usually taking a turn that I didn’t like, or something really awful was about to happen. And when the story started over, I found myself relieved and breathing a sigh of relief that Ursula’s life wasn’t over and her life could continue again. If you get confused easily, this is not the book for you. But if you’re ready for an incredible read, buy this and move it to the top of your list for 2015.

Beautiful Ruins– Jess Walter: This was another one of those books that sat on my NookBook wishlist for a pretty long time. I had heard really mixed reviews (people loved it or hated it) and just felt unsure about buying it. When it dropped in price one day, I decided to pounce on it. And boy was I glad. I could literally picture everything happening in the book; the characters, the scenery….everything. Such a beautifully written story. If you’re like me, and have been hemming and hawing over this book, take my advice and go read it. If you love a wonderfully written story, then you won’t be disappointed.New Signature

 

 


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Missing Planes, Protests, and Ebola – What Stories Stick in Your Mind?

I’m a news junkie. I always have been, and even more so while I was studying journalism during my undergrad years. And now, thanks to social media, my addiction to the media has grown.

2014 was filled with an abundance of news stories. Some happy, some horrific and some just mind-boggling. There are plenty that will stick in everyone’s minds, while others just disappear into the endless knowledge of our brains. I am one of those people. So many things are thrown at us on a daily basis, myself included, and sometimes I just have a hard time processing it all. But since I’m a news junkie, I wanted to take a moment to recap the top news stories that have stuck in my mind, among the endless knowledge, since the beginning of 2014.

News StoriesGratisography

  • The Missing Malaysian Plane (MH370): This particular story will forever stick in my mind. I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but I’ve definitely found myself reading some of the theories on a few different occasions. How can I plane that large just disappear? Even if it crashed into the ocean, wouldn’t something have been found my now?
  • The Market Basket Protests: This began as a local story, but quickly evolved into one that made national headlines. It went beyond just boycotting the ousted CEO and into human rights and equal wages. I wrote a blog post on it, but more as a letter to the protestors who we could hear at all hours of the night. I fully supported their efforts, but many disagreed with my post. It was the first time I learned that if I wanted to blog, and write what I wanted, I needed to have thick skin.
  • ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: With all of the horrible news happening, this was one of those stories that filled me with absolute joy. I actually waited for the day that someone would nominate me to participate. And I was more than happy to donate money to this cause. Especially with the local ties. To read more about my experience, and see the video, check out my blog post.
  • The Gunned Down Malaysian Plane: I was in Spain when this happened. I sat in my best friend’s living room, on a navy base, watching this unfold. And I was due to get on a flight in less than a week. I knew we would be safe. I knew we weren’t traveling over any countries that have this kind of hatred and fighting. But I couldn’t wrap my head around this happening. All 298 lives were lost.
  • Ebola: Ebola is a horrible, scary disease and I can’t even imagine what it’s like with the threat in West Africa. Those Ebola fighters were named “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine. While the epidemic in West Africa was a story itself, the panic in the United States is the story that sticks out in my mind. The United States has seen 10 confirmed cases of Ebola, with 2 deaths, neither of whom had contracted the disease in the states. But the hysteria that came with Ebola entering the country was insane. People panicked. Flights were diverted. People who had the flu were contained. It seemed like for a good month, all you heard about was Ebola. With good reason of course, but it did show how the media can cause widespread panic when something like this enters our borders.
  • Leaked Celebrity Photos: This story might be the most ‘fluffy’ that sticks out in my mind, but it was a serious matter that exposed how easy it is to get into our virtual lives. Hollywood stars had their photos leaked after an iCloud hack. Many people (not celebrities) thought it was great… for obvious reasons. But many didn’t really think about the other side of this; our online safety. The majority of us who have Apple devices backup our data to the iCloud. Of course, no one really knows where or what the cloud is, but we know it’s there and we can retrieve it when necessary. Our lives are on our devices, at least I know mine is. When this hack and leak happened, I think it made many of us feel vulnerable. If it can happy to those celebrities, it could just as easily happen to one us. It brought on many debates over the internet about the safety of the Cloud, and just goes to show that no one is really safe if the cyber world. I certainly learned. My photos are not backed up to iCloud; I store them directly on my computer and back them up in an external hard drive.

That’s my round-up. Obviously, there are a lot more. I could write about everything in my head for hours, but this post would end up incredibly long, and you’d probably get bored reading it. So I stuck with 6. And some of them may not be the ones that are at the forefront of your mind.

Having said that, I want to know: What news stories stick out in your mind? 

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A little 2013 recap

At some point in my life, I will avidly blog on here.

For now, you’re just going to have to deal with my sporadic posts. Sorry! Sometimes, my life is just to dang busy for this blog.

The good news is, it’s 2014. I opted to not make any New Year’s Resolutions this year. I don’t think I did last year either. My goal every year is to get run a 5K and get in shape. Instead, I’ve just gained weight (changing that!). In 2013, I took a good stab at it with Insanity. But then I hurt my foot. Which kind of put the whole exercise thing on the sideline.

2013 was a good year. I like to say it was a year of changes. Nothing outwardly spectacular happened, but things happened for sure. I believe I phrased it best on Facebook –

“2013 was certainly a year to remember, filled with lots of smiles and some tears, but mostly smiles. From moving into our first place, losing my beloved grandmother, selling my childhood home and my parents moving, watching numerous friends get married and engaged, and even being in a few of the weddings!, beginning my dream career in book publishing, summer campfires, wedding planning, Insanity, injuries and just having the time of our lives. And to cap it all off, the year gets to end with my mother retiring and enjoying this well deserved next phase of her life. 2013 was an incredible year, but I have a feeling 2014 might be even better!”

2014 will definitely be a year to remember – between learning to live healthy and get this weight off for good, my foot finally on the road to recovery, planning my wedding and a trip to SPAIN, I’m looking forward to recapping this year as a year that will be tough to beat! :)

2011

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are already here. It seems like just yesterday I was fighting with the cat while wrapping last year’s presents. It’s hard to believe that in just a year our lives can change so dramatically. It seems that as we get older, the years just go by faster. Before we know it, another year is gone and we sit back and wonder where the year went. There are times that I wish I could just slow time down and just live and not worry about my daily responsibilities.

2011-recap

This year, well next year, I vow to make more time for me. That means more photo shoots, more books, more exercise and more cooking (well, attempting to cook). I want to look back at 2012 and not wonder where the time went, but wonder how I could have managed to do the things I did and feel proud. The end of 2011 was a great year (and it’s not even over yet), so I plan on making 2012 even better.

Here is a list of my fondest memories of 2011:

  1. Watching Miss E ride for the first time (and second, third and fourth times)

  2. Vegas and California vacation

  3. Buying Nook #1 (and reading 34 books on it since February)

  4. Reading close to 50 books in total for 2011 (Goal for 2012 – 75)

  5. Losing 15 lbs

  6. Spending time with some of the best people in the world

  7. Landing my dream job as a Marketing Coordinator

  8. Buying my new camera

  9. Starting eryn e photography

  10. Realizing that life is what you make of it (corny, I know.)

So bring on the holidays and let’s finish up 2011 with a bang.

2012 – you have a lot to live up too.

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