Saturday, January 11, 2014

Highlights From 2013

I suppose most people have put 2013 behind them by now, but before I join them in putting the year to rest, I have a few reflections. It was a mostly positive year, with one dark cloud which will continue to loom over my family in 2014. Though I may not always be able to see the sun on a dark, cloudy day, I have faith that it still exists on the other side. So, in no particular order, some of my highlights and favorite things from 2013.

1. Writing - What would I do without words? Without characters and stories to create? Probably succumb to watching HGTV 24 hours a day. That channel is seriously addicting.

2. Squash pie from Wilson's - I discovered this pie right before Thanksgiving and had to go back to buy one for Christmas. I may have accidentally hid it in the back of the refrigerator on Christmas until after we had eaten dinner and dessert. Such a shame that the family was too full to eat any.

3. Speaking of refrigerators...My new refrigerator! - After my ol' faithful 20 year old fridge froze its last ice cube a few days before Christmas, it was time to put it to rest. My new one is shiny and white and doesn't have handles. It's sparkly with it's LED lights and oh, so clean. I never thought I'd become enamored with a kitchen appliance, but I'm smitten.

4. Pope Francis - I love that this simple man of faith is leading my Church and I'm hopeful for its future.

5. The University of Notre Dame

6. My family - There were so many joyful  moments that made my heart soar this past year: birth of a new baby, wedding with a story behind it that makes me tear up every time I tell someone (and the addition of our Chloe), my parents moving back from Florida, celebrating sacraments together: First Communion, Confirmation, Baptism - we are truly blessed. There were/are some difficult events that we struggled with and will continue to face in 2014 but we're strong, resilient, and hopeful.

7. One of those joyful family events...My son running, finishing, and in his category, winning a marathon.
He trained last summer, often running 8 to 15 miles in the heat. This past fall, on his fall break from college, he flew home and ran in a local marathon. His time, just under 3 hours, qualified him  for the Boston Marathon in 2015. He is such an inspiration to me and I'm so proud of him.

8. My friends, J and T, blog about their child and how she has changed their lives in the best possible way. It's a peek into their private lives and the little joys that come with their child's discoveries and growth. Their posts put a smile on my face as I remember my own brood when they were that young. I look forward to every post!

9. Downton Abbey - Yes, I am bandwagon jumper on-er. After mispronouncing the name of this hit show for two years (kind of like how I mispronounced Hermione's name until I listened to a Harry Potter audiobook. Doh!), my oldest daughter and I decided to borrow the DVDs for the past 3 seasons to see what all the hype was about. Well, it only took a few episodes to hook us and I'm so excited about season 4. Can't wait to find out what happens to the residents and staff of my favorite English residence.

10. My comfy Clarks. Worth every penny.

What were some of your favorite things or moments of 2013? I'd love for you to share them in the comments below.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Favorite 2013 Reads

My Goodreads reading goal for 2013 was to read 26 books. To my delight, I surpassed this goal in the fall and reset it for 32. As of December 31, 2013 I finished reading 39 novels! It was a great year for YA fiction and it's going to be hard to narrow down my favorites, but I suspect that some of mine are on your favorites list as well. In no particular order:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - I love a book with a gut-wrenching twist.

Just One Day/Just One Year - Gayle Forman is back! Just sayin'.

Fangirl - I categorize this as NA. Another great book by Rainbow Rowell.

Shine - Lauren Myracle - How did I neglect reading this for so long? Wonderful!

Prodigy - Marie Lu - The Legend series; Most trilogies I've read or started reading have a weak book. Not this one. Champion will be my first read in 2014.

Days of Blood and Starlight - Laini Taylor, enough said.

Wintergirls (reread) - Laurie Halse Anderson - Perfect.

The Fifth Wave - Rick Yancey, I love your writing.

Chaos Walking series - Patrick Ness, I love yours, too.

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith - Jo, you sneaky devil! Refreshing. Renewed my love for mystery/detective books with great characterization.

And because Neil Gaiman's brilliant, even when he's writing a blog post, The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Good creepy stuff!

I'll keep my 2013 list visible on the right of this homepage for a few more days in case you're looking for recommendations for your 2014 TBR list. After that I'll post the list under my Books Read tab where you will find my 2012 and 2013 list. If your're interested I will be adding my 2014 reads to the right sidebar on this page as well as what I'm currently reading.

Also, a special shout out to my two friends who were published this year. Donna K. Weaver and Donna Hosie.
I'm so proud of these women and happy to count them as friends. I wish them continued success and can't wait to see how they'll use their talents this year.

What were your favorite reads of 2013? Were any of mine on your list? What must read book should I add to my 2014 TBR list?