Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff: There are only two reasons this book gets A minus – it starts a little slow and it’s a little too long. But everything else about it is just fabulous. It is a truly epic and fascinating love story that takes you on a ride with no clue of the final destination. Told in two parts – Fates is from the husband’s perspective and Furies is from the wife’s perspective. The latter infinitely more interesting and has a shocking twist.
What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty: I’ve read several of Liane’s books, and I absolutely adored this one. It’s a tragic plot – she hits her head and has seemingly forgotten 10 years of her life, including her kids and her failing marriage – but it’s also so endearing. She sees her current life through a totally new, un-jaded lense and vows to get her marriage back on track. It’s cute, it’s easy, and it makes you thankful for what you have.
Wearing God – Lauren F. Winner: Highly recommended from a friend, I’m passing along this recommendation to all of you. This is a thought-provoking book about metaphors of God – though not the ones you immediately think of such as King or Shepherd, more like Clothing, Laughter, Laboring Woman… intrigued yet? This is a great book to read with a friend and discuss together. It will probably make you feel uncomfortable, but I promise it will also give you a new perspective on God.
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood: I vowed to read this book before I watched the show on Hulu, and I’m so glad I did. Oh.My.Gosh. This book AND the TV show are absolutely incredible. It’s creepy and weird and will make you cry and will make you gasp, but it is such a good story. I’m so glad Hulu has taken it over so well and expanded upon the book, because I finished it and was dying for more.
You can read all my book reviews here.
What She Knew – Gilly Macmillan: This falls in to the typical genre of books I lean towards – thriller with a lead female character who’s a little shady (a la Gone Girl, Girl on the Train). That being said, I enjoyed it enough, but it didn’t hold up against the others on the list which kept me turning the pages all night. The ending didn’t close all the holes and left you with an uneasy feeling.
Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequiest: Let me start by saying, I love Shauna Niequiest. She gets me, I get her and she is just wonderful. I love love loved her book Bread and Wine, which I’ve reviewed previously, so I was highly anticipating this book. However, it kind of let me down. There were great points that I totally related to, especially the main point of the book being present over perfect, but it seemed to kind of ramble/drag on. This would have been better in a series of blog posts or a chapter or two of another book.
The Girls – Emma Cline: This book has been on my list for forever, finally became available at the library, and oh my gosh I devoured it! Set in 1960s California, the book follows a teenage girl who gets caught up in a cult that ends very very badly. I was fascinated not only with the cult, but also the transformation of the main character. If you’re interested in cults at all or just want a unique read that will pull you in, this is for you.
The River at Night – Erica Ferencik: What I learned from this book: I will never ever ever go white water rafting in a remote location, especially on an annual girls trip – which is exactly the basis of this book. The book started out a little slow and I almost put it down, but then it started getting intense and I just couldn’t turn my eyes away from the horror. And it was literally that, horror. I couldn’t put the book down the last 100 pages, though I’m not sure it’s because I was enjoying it. It still freaks me out to think about it now.
You can read all my book reviews here.
Mermaids in Paradise – Lydia Millet: This book is funny and spunky and totally surprised me with how enjoyable it was. I’ve always loved anything mermaids so when I heard about this one (a couple honeymooning in the Caribbean stumbles upon mermaids) it sounded right up my alley. It’s a little weird/sci-fi-ish, but still a fun, easy read. Warning: the ending is extremely weird. And if you read it, we must talk about it.
Talking as Fast as I Can – Lauren Graham: What a perfect stocking stuffer from Husband! I adore Lauren Graham and this book was no exception. She is so personable and quirky, and you can literally hear her voice reading the book to you. The best parts of the book were when she talked behind the scenes of Gilmore Girls and gave you juicy info like you’re an insider. However, if you haven’t watched GG or Parenthood, you might feel a little alienated reading the book.
Paris My Sweet – Amy Thomas: Another great surprise Christmas gift from Mom! This book follows an advertising copywriter as she moves from NYC to Paris, and eats her way through the City of Light and all the sweets it has to offer. I love both cities and love desserts, so this book sounded perfect for me, as Mom said. (And it was!) It reads like fiction, but is actually non-fiction so the book also gives you loads of places to actually visit in NYC or Paris for the best macaron or cupcake or chocolate chip cookie or anything your heart so desires.
Executive Presence – Sylvia Ann Hewlett: It’s often difficult to force myself to read these types of books instead of getting lost in a fictitious world, but I’m always glad when I do. This was a very practical book for anyone in the business world. The author shares the qualities of Executive Presence (EP), why they’re important, studies and stories to go with each, then tips for how to get better at each. I thought it dragged on just a touch, but overall I gained some good personal knowledge for my own EP.
You can read all of my book reviews here.
T V S H O W S
5. Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life – Netflix: I have been on pins and needles waiting for this show for a year. Well, actually more than that since I’ve wanted more ever since it ended!! I was so concerned it wouldn’t live up to my high expectations, and while it clearly wasn’t my number 1 for the year, it definitely makes the top 5. There were a few quirks about it I didn’t love, but overall I felt like I was chatting with my old friends again, going to my old haunts and swooning over my old boyfriends (#TeamJess). I binged this all day with a friend and it just made me so, so happy. Full blog post to come soon.
4. The Crown – Netflix: This show is absolutely fascinating. If you have any interest in the Royal family or British history, then this should be a must on your list to get an inside look at the rise of Queen Elizabeth II at 25 years old (crazy!!). The acting is absolutely phenomenal and the show is extremely well made. I can’t wait for more seasons as they introduce Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
3. Younger – TV Land: I love this show!!! This is the show I’m dying to watch every single week and indulge myself in without husband. The characters are so fun and relatable, and makes me wish I was in the publishing industry in NYC. This season they introduced a love triangle that pulls at all the heartstrings. (#TeamJosh) It just ended and I’m already dying for more!
2. Westworld – HBO: I was super skeptical about watching this. All of our friends claimed they stopped watching The Walking Dead and started watching this instead. So while it took me a minute to give it a chance, I was hooked from the very first episode. It is sooooo creepy and will have you seriously concerned about the future of AI, but you won’t be able to tear yourself away.
1. Stranger Things – Netflix: It can’t be a surprise to anyone that this was my number 1 show of the year. We dressed up as the kids for Halloween, and we found and stood in line for a Stranger Things bar over Christmas. If you love 80s nostalgia, being a little bit scared and rooting for a group of adorable kids then put this first on your list.
Way to go, Netflix! Seriously, they are stepping up their game in the original TV show department – 3/5 on my list! Sadly, there were a few shows this year that have been on my list in previous years, but are slowly declining … namely, The Walking Dead.
B O O K S
5. Bread & Wine – Shauna Niequist: I.am.obsessed.with.this.book. I seriously could read it all over again right now. The author shares life stories and intermingles them with her favorite recipes. I felt like I was in her kitchen, living life with her, breaking bread and drinking wine. She is so honest and transparent, and shares her faith in such an amazing way.
4. Along the Infinite Sea – Beatriz Williams: This book captured me from the first chapter. It tells the story of two very different women, one growing up in WWII and one in 1960s America, and how their lives intertwine. This is a dazzling love story that will sweep you off your feet, thanks to the incredible writing. By the end I was bawling and dying for more.
3. The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah: I adored this book! Set in France in WWII following two stories, it was reminiscent of All The Light We Cannot See (my #1 book of 2015). The character development was phenomenal and the writer painted the scenes so well. At one point I was crying so hard because I felt like I was in an internment camp and told husband through bleary eyes how I just couldn’t get over the fact that this happened in real life. Yes, there are some sad parts, but I promise you will not regret reading it.
2. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes: This book surprised me so much by how much I enjoyed it. It had been on my reading list for a couple of years now, and I finally decided to give it a shot when I saw it at the library. It is such a beautiful tragic love story that makes you fall in love with the characters and then cry your eyes out at the end.
1. Brain on Fire – Susannah Cahalan: This is one of those books (like I’ve said before in my reviews) you just HAVE to read! Seriously, go buy it right now. It’s a true story about a 24-year-old journalist who gets very sick, very fast, and no one can figure out what is wrong. You will be fascinated by the medical and biological side of the story, as much as you will the personal and relational side. It’s non-fiction, but totally reads like fiction.
[You can read all of my book reviews here.]
So, in years past I’ve shared my top tv shows, books AND movies of the year. However, as I started thinking about this post, I couldn’t even think of 5 movies we’d seen this year! They say we are in the golden era of TV, and I completely agree. It was a lot harder to come up with my top 5 TV shows because we’ve watched a lot of incredible TV this year.
Of course there are a lot of buzzworthy Oscar movies out right now that I’m dying to see, and I’m literally going to see La La Land in an hour. I’ll go ahead and say my favorite movie of 2016 was La La Land.
It seems like forever ago when I read the three books in this review because I’ve been failing miserably to find my next book. I started and stopped four books that I just couldn’t get in to, and then just gave up and fell back into my latest TV binge, Suits.
Then, the book gods blessed me with three new books in one week, and I’ve been devouring them. So, I decided to do my book review with only three books instead of my typical four, so I can start fresh with my new books.
Grade: A Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter: This one falls under a typical, go-to genre for me – mystery thriller with a female lead, a la Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Good Girl, etc. While I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. There were some very dark themes in the book that I wasn’t prepared for (torture, rape) and were written about in more detail than I would prefer. If you like darker thrillers, you would probably really enjoy this.
Grade: B The Hating Game – Sally Thorne: This one was given to me by a friend out of the blue so I knew absolutely nothing about it, and sometimes those are the best. I often build up books in my head so much that they don’t live up to the expectation. Well, I loved this book! It was such an easy, fun read that follows two work enemies who end up anything but enemies. It’s a very cute, playful love story with a sexy edge.
You can see all my book reviews here.
When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi: This book will wreck you. But it is oh so worth the read. It is such a beautiful, true story about a 36-year old neurosurgeon whose world is immediately changed when he’s diagnosed with lung cancer. In his autobiography, he explores the meaning of life and death with such a unique perspective it will make you examine your own ways of thinking, and it will most definitely make you shed some tears.
Eight Hundred Grapes – Laura Dave: This is one of those easy breezy reads you should take on vacation – especially if you’re vacationing in wine country. It was light and fun, but had more depth and twists than I expected. It will make you want to drink wine, have a house on a vineyard and follow your dreams.
Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn: I really did not like this book, and I really don’t know why I finished it. Maybe because I loved Gone Girl so much (same author), and I was just hoping it would turn a corner and get infinitely better, but it didn’t. It was dark and twisted and not my cup of tea.
Bread & Wine – Shauna Niequist: I.am.obsessed.with.this.book. I seriously could read it all over again right now. The author shares life stories and intermingles them with her favorite recipes. I felt like I was in her kitchen, living life with her, breaking bread and drinking wine. She is so honest and transparent, and shares her faith in such an amazing way. I can’t wait for her new book to come out, Present Over Perfect.
You can see all my book reviews here.