My Year in Adventures {2019}

Dec 31, 2019

It's hard to believe that another year – and decade! – is about to come to a close. Before it does, I want to take a moment to look back at the past twelve months. Since 2015, I've done a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to share my favorites from each year. It's one reason I love blogging in December so much. There were so many things I loved about 2019, but today it's all about the adventures! • Adventures in 2017 and 2018

This is my final post of the series, and my favorite way to wrap it all up. What's better than looking back at all the things I did and loved this past year? It isn't comprehensive since so many memories weren't captured on camera, and even then it was hard to narrow it down to just these 18 favorites. Here's to a 2020 that's just as lovely!

AQUARIUM ADVENTURE • One Friday, I woke up in the mood for an adventure. We headed to the aquarium and were so happy when Nick joined us. It was our son's third visit, but I think he enjoyed it more at this age!

TURNING 30 • I celebrated my birthday by going to dinnerwith my husband, and then I got together with my family a few days later. I'm so excited for this new decade, and it inspired one of my favorite posts of the year.

A DAY AT THE ZOO • For my son's birthday last year, we got a membership to Zoo Atlanta. Before it expired, we had to make sure we fit in one last visit. He is such an animal lover, and I love seeing the zoo through his eyes.

TRAVELING WITH KELLY • Going to England (plus a day in Paris) with Kelly was definitely a highlight of my year. We take amazing day trips, make great memories, buy all the books, and she's the best travel partner. 

PETTING ZOO • Our neighborhood celebrated the start of spring with an Easter egg hunt, pony rides, and a petting zoo. I think you can imagine where our little animal lover ended up! We love this community so much.

WILD ANIMAL SAFARI • With our son's birthday approaching, we decided to surprise him with a day at a drive-thru animal park. He was in heaven, and we got to feed a huge assortment of animals out the windows. 

MY BOY TURNS THREE • In May, we celebrated our son's third birthday. He has been the sweetest blessing and brings me so much joy every day. I'm so thankful for this little boy! Raising him is a privilege and an honor.

MOUNTAIN VACATION(S) • We went to the mountains several times, but this was one of my favorite trips. We did a little shopping, spent some time exploring, and just enjoyed relaxing in such a gorgeous environment.

POOL DAYS • We love the pool in our new neighborhood, and we visited it a few times in June. I loved being able to go early in the day before it got busy. And with Nick working from home, sometimes I'd go during my son's nap.

FIRST BROKEN BONE • My sweet boy fell off the playground and broke his wrist. Thankfully, it healed quickly, so he only had his cast for two weeks. It didn't slow him down one bit, and he was so brave about it all. 

KELLY COMES TO VISIT • Kelly and I went to all the bookstores, spent an evening in the mountains, and just enjoyed hanging out around my house. We have the best time, no matter what we do, and I'm so thankful for her!

DINOSAUR HIKE • I found a local hiking trail that had dinosaurs (foam, I think?) on it. My son is still obsessed with all things dino, and he loved this even more than I'd expected! Seeing his joy made all the sweating worth it.

BEACH VACATION • Nick was traveling a lot this summer, so my mom suggested that we take our own vacation after everyone was back in school. My son and I had so much fun with Mimi and made the best memories!

BABY BOY DUE IN 2020 • We found out this year that we're expecting another boy in February, and it was the sweetest answer to prayer. I can't wait to see our firstborn become a big brother and loved writing about it.

CORN MAZE & PUMPKIN PATCH • We visit a farm about thirty minutes from us with a great corn maze, pumpkin patch, hayride, market, and other fun activities. It was the perfect fall adventure that has become a yearly tradition!

APPENDECTOMY FOR MY BABY • While I definitely didn't love that my son's appendix ruptured and required surgery, I was so thankful for his bravery and for all the doctors and nurses involved in his care. 

KELLY COMES BACK • Nick had to go out of town right after we got home from the hospital, and I felt anxious about my son's recovery. So, he flew Kelly down to stay with us since she's a nurse, and it was the sweetest gift!

HOLIDAY FUN • This past month and a half has flown by, but we filled it with so many special moments and memories. I can't believe we're entering 2020 tomorrow, but I'm so excited for everything the new year holds.

What adventures did you go on in 2019?
Here's to a happy 2020!

My Year in Obsessions {2019}

Dec 30, 2019

It's hard to believe that another year – and decade! – is about to come to a close. Before it does, I want to take a moment to look back at the past twelve months. Since 2015, I've done a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to share my favorites from each year. It's one reason I love blogging in December so much. There were so many things I loved about 2019, but today it's all about the obsessions! • Obsessions in 2017 and 2018

Listen, y'all, I went a little overboard in today's post. Since I knew at the beginning of the year that I'd be writing this post in December, I did a better job of tracking what I bought and loved. That's why it got a little long! It still isn't a comprehensive list, but it's 26 new obsessions plus a bonus section. In a recent post, I mentioned being thankful for several apps that made my life easier/more productive this year. I listed those favorites at the end!

1. Pride and Prejudice Pemberley Shirt ($20+) – Kelly just gave me this shirt for Christmas, so it's a last minute addition to my list. BUT I HAD TO INCLUDE IT! Do you see this cuteness? I love that it's nerdy if you're in the know

2. New Balance Arishi V2 Running Shoes ($35) – I think my feet grew a little bit during my last pregnancy, and some of my shoes didn't fit as comfortably anymore. I replaced my old sneakers with these and have loved them! 

3. GAP Stretch Cotton Hipster Underwear ($10) – Since Target discontinued their Gilligan & O'Malley line, I've been searching for a new go-to underwear brand. After a series of misses, I finally found these. They're great! 

4. Dolce Vita Madox Leopard Sneakers ($130) – Leopard print has been all the rage this year, so I'd been keeping my eye out for a cute pair of flats or sneakers in it. I fell in love with these online, and they're even cuter in person.

5. Madewell High Rise Skinny Jeans in Cordova Wash: Button-Front Edition ($138) – I bought these in the spring and adore them, even though I haven't gotten to wear them much due to pregnancy. BUT NEXT YEAR!

6. Banana Republic Satya Sunglasses in Black ($98) – I am just obsessed with this "Satya" style of sunglasses. I bought a pair last year, treated myself to this color my England trip, and just got another color for Christmas. 

7. Free People Too Good Pullover in Candy Pink ($78) – Dillard's had a huge sale in the spring where I got so many sweaters for cheap, and this was one. It's so cute on, even though I'm not normally drawn to this color.

8. J.Crew Perfect Rain Jacket in Navy ($120) – Before my trip to England, I decided that I needed a new rain jacket. After some research, I decided on this one... and Kelly did, too. And we're equally obsessed with it!

9. Freshly Picked Mini Classic Diaper Bag in Birch ($100) – My mom gifted me the larger size of this bag for the new baby, but I decided to get the mini, too. I've loved using it when I need purse and to be handsfree.

10. Koji Ring Popsicle Molds ($15) – We bought this at Target over the summer, and my son loves it so much. He makes a mess eating them though. And I need to look up more popsicle recipes for more ideas.

11. Emily Ley Weekly Simplified Planner in Navy Blooms ($48) – I switched to this weekly planner, and I adore it. I'm still using a Happy Planner for other things, but this is the perfect size and format for planning my life.

12. I Heart Naptime Blog – I checked out this cookbook from the library, loved everything I made, bought a copy to keep, and then became obsessed with the blog. My meal plan is dominated by recipes from this site.

13. Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew – I've never been a huge fan of the Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but I heard people raving about this new drink. I had to try it, and I was obsessed! The flavor is so much better.

14. Healthish WB-1 Water Bottle ($25) – Rachel from Hello, Chelly recommended this water bottle on Instagram one day, and I'm so glad she did. It's helping me drink more water every day (always a goal for me) in style.

15. Promptly Journals Childhood History in Dusty Blue ($32) – When I found out I was pregnant, I bought one of these journals. I loved it so much that I got one for my firstborn, though I've got a lot of catching up to do.

16. A Hum for Hope Book Sleeve in Sun Girls ($22) – Can you ever have too many book sleeves? Probably, but I refuse to stop browsing and buying. I love the little details on this one the faux leather bottom and tie at the top.

17. Zebra 15ct. Dual-Tip Mildliners ($17) – I bought these in 2018 and featured them in a post that year, but forgot to include them on my yearly recap. Well, I'm remedying that now! I love using these in my bookish bullet journal.

18. Hummix Wireless Car Charger Mount ($31) – This was a random find during Prime Day, and I've been really pleased with it! The charging feature is nice, and it's very stable (compared to the magnetic mount I used before).

19. Recollections 3-Tier Lexington Rolling Cart ($30) – Bookstagram made me do it, but I don't use it as a TBR cart. It's books to be shelved on the first tier, review books on the second, and books to donate/trade on the third.

20. YunTeng iPhone Selfie Stick & Tripod ($17) – This is so nerdy, but it was so useful for bookstagramming! I haven't used it as much recently, but that's just because I haven't been taking as many book photos.

21. Sorbus Acrylic Makeup Drawers ($28) – I saw my mom using this and had to have it. I have a vanity area in my bathroom, but the drawer is shallow and didn't fit much. These look great on the counter with my makeup.

22. Greater Goods Bluetooth Blood Pressure Monitor ($45) – I needed to start tracking my blood pressure at home, and I've loved the Bluetooth & app functionality to be able to easily show the results to my doctor.

23. Dash Mini Waffle Maker ($10) – When we moved, we got rid of our broken waffle maker. I randomly got this for Nick's stocking but didn't expect to use it much. Instead, we use it even more than our old one!

24. iDesign Organizers – In my nesting mode, I decided to completely reorganize our kitchen and pantry. I found some of these bins at TJ Maxx, and they made such a difference. They make everything look better.

25. The Lazy Genius Podcast – Most of my listening time was spent on music and audiobooks, but I did listen to a few podcasts. This one is my favorite, by far, and I'm working my way through old episodes to get caught up.

26. Threshold Acacia Serving Tray ($26) – I just bought this last week to make a crudité board for an event. The size was exactly what I needed, the rim kept stuff from falling off, and I loved how it looked once arranged.

A few of these were tried-and-true favorites, some were on my phone already but became favorites this year, and others were new to me. I'm planning to write a more detailed post about four of them soon and marked those with a heart. I didn't include any standard apps like Messages, but here were twelve favorites:

AudibleHow did I live without audiobooks in my life? I'm so glad this format grew on me with time because it's a huge part of my reading life now! This app is a staple for me and one I've loved for years now.

Balance HealthThis app goes with the blood pressure monitor I linked above, and the Bluetooth functionality works great. If you don't want their monitor but need to track your blood pressure, you can add readings manually.

A Color StoryI included this app in 2018's Obsessions post, but I felt it deserved another mention since I've continued to use and love it. At the height of bookstagramming, I loved the feature that let me plan my grid.

Feedly This is a site I've used for years on my computer, but I'd never really taken advantage of the app before. I finally started using it more this year to catch up on my favorite blogs whenever I had a few moments for reading.

Flic  – One of my biggest goals right now involves digital organization, including going through photos on my phone. This has made it so easy and was totally worth the $2 upgrade. I'll write all about it soon!

Goodbudget  – I've only been using this for two months, but it's already made a big difference. Similar to the cash envelope system, It's been the accountability I've needed to save more and start to develop new habits.

Goodreads There are things I hate about the Goodreads app, but I can't deny that it's one of my most used. I'm constantly looking up ratings for books, updating my reading status, and more. If only they'd improve the search...

OneNote  – I realized that I had a million physical notebooks and digital notes scattered all over the place, so I started looking for ways I could consolidate them. I didn't expect to LOVE this as much as I do.

Plan to EatSince signing up for this site in 2017, it has revolutionized my meal planning and grocery shopping. Two things that I used to hate are now so much easier. The website is better than the app, but I do love both.

Pocket I've used Pocket on my computer for ages, but I wasn't using the app (even though I had it installed). I'm trying to spend less time on my phone, so I'm trying to be better about saving some articles to read later. 

Spotify This is a favorite that I've loved for a long time! I'm a Spotify Premium user and have been since 2016. I find a lot of music myself, but I love that the app helps me discover new things, too. So many good playlists!

Things 3  – I'm cheating a bit because you purchase this app for each device, and I've only done it for my Mac at this point. It was a splurge, but I love it so far. It's a to-do list app that's thoughtfully and beautifully designed.

What have you been so obsessed with this year?
Anything on my list that you love or want to try, too?

My Year in Beauty {2019}

Dec 29, 2019

It's hard to believe that another year – and decade! – is about to come to a close. Before it does, I want to take a moment to look back at the past twelve months. Since 2015, I've done a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to share my favorites from each year. It's one reason I love blogging in December so much. There were so many things I loved about 2019, but today it's all about the beauty! • Beauty in 2016, 2017, and 2018

Some years I have so many new obsessions that I split them into different sections, and some years I (mostly) use tried and true favorites. This year was more of the latter, but here are 10 products I added to my routine:

1. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser ($15) – I don't want to spend a lot on something that gets washed down the drain and spends barely any time on my face. This works great for my normal-to-dry skin.

2. Skinfood Wash Off Black Sugar Mask ($5) – This inexpensive mask is nice when I want to spend a little extra time exfoliating. It smells great and works really well, even if it does look a little gross when it's on.

3. Essie Nail Polish in Off Tropic ($9) – I bought this nail polish color a few weeks ago after deciding I didn't want to wait to see if it would appear in my stocking. The application was great, and I got so many compliments on it!

4. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation Full Coverage Moisturizer with SPF 50 ($40) – I love and recommend this brand's CC Cream, but I tried this when it was an Ulta deal. It's a great option when I want lighter coverage.

5. Not Your Mothers Beach Babe Texturizing Dry Shampoo ($6) – My dry shampoo stash is always changing. I've tried four or five different kinds this year alone! This one stood out and has been repurchased multiple times.

6. Eva NYC Tone It Down! Blonde Shampoo ($12) and Conditioner ($12) – I've been getting my hair highlighted for the past year or two and decided to try purple shampoo when I went a little blonder. These have worked great!

7. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Waterproof Concealer ($26) – This was an Ulta beauty deal, and I decided to try it since I love this brand. I've been really happy with it, especially the huge range of shades to pick from. 

8. The Ordinary "Buffet" Serum ($15) – I've tried several things from The Ordinary this year, and I'm so impressed by all of them. This was my favorite overall, however, and the thing that I ran out of the quickest + repurchased. 

9. Lipstick Queen Nothing but Nudes in The Truth ($24) – Another random Ulta sale purchase that I loved! All of the shades in this line seemed great, but this one was my fave. A lovely nude with just the right amount of color.

10. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water ($9) – I could have sworn I'd included this in a past post, but maybe not? Garnier has multiple micellar waters, but this one (with the blue cap) is the best by far. 

Do you have any beauty product recommendations?
See anything new on my list that you want to try?

My Year in Movies & TV {2019}

Dec 28, 2019

It's hard to believe that another year – and decade! – is about to come to a close. Before it does, I want to take a moment to look back at the past twelve months. Since 2015, I've done a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to share my favorites from each year. It's one reason I love blogging in December so much. There were so many things I loved about 2019, but today it's all about the movies & TV! • Moves & TV in 2016, 2017, and 2018

This was an odd year because I watched a decent number of movies but almost none of them wowed me. There were so many meh ones! I had four that stood out overall, but only one of those is truly a new favorite. 

Mary, Queen of Scots I didn't love this one quite as much as I expected, but I have found myself wanting to watch it again recently. It was perfectly cast, in my opinion, and it was so fun to discuss with Kelly afterward. 

Always Be My MaybeThis was such a delight! Wong's comedy is a little too crass for me, but this was such a fun take on the friends-to-lovers trope. A hilarious script, diverse story, and great cast made this fun to watch. 

Frozen III'm not sure if I liked this one more than the first, but it was definitely a very enjoyable sequel. It felt a little long and slow to me in parts, but sometimes Disney movies grow on me the more I see them.

Little Women ♥ My favorite movie of the year AND know it will be a lifelong favorite with future rewatches! I loved every second – cried, laughed, and left with a new appreciation for Amy March. Best way to end the year!

I feel like I had more success with television shows than movies this year, though a lot of that is because I was watching old favorites. However, there were four new-to-me things that I watched and loved: 

Killing Eve I've only seen the first season, so it's probably cheating to list it. But I just noticed that the second season is finally on Hulu, so that's about to happen. I can't stop raving about Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh.

Peaky Blinders ♥ Why didn't I watch this show before this year? It's amazing! This is definitely my favorite find of 2019. Nick and I both loved this one, and our TV taste doesn't always overlap. I'm impatiently waiting for more!

Salt Fat Acid HeatI randomly turned on this four episode food mini-series one day and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I don't love to cook, but I love reading and learning about culinary things. 

The Great British Baking ShowWell, I finally understand the Internet's obsession with this show. I haven't watched every season yet, but it's been such a cozy and comforting show to watch this December. 

CONTINUED TO LOVE • Grey's AnatomyJane the VirginQueer Eye, and This is Us

NEED TO CATCH UPOutlanderPoldark, and Younger

What was your favorite movie of 2019?
Did you binge any new (or old!) TV shows? 

My Year in Music {2019}

Dec 27, 2019

It's hard to believe that another year – and decade! – is about to come to a close. Before it does, I want to take a moment to look back at the past twelve months. Since 2015, I've done a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to share my favorites from each year. It's one reason I love blogging in December so much. There were so many things I loved about 2019, but today it's all about the music! • Music in 20152016, 2017, and 2018

I tend to replay an album for a few weeks (sometimes months) and then move on to new things. That means that many albums/artists are associated with specific seasons of my life, so it's always funny to look back in December to see what I remember most about when I listened to this music. Spotify used to accurately summarize my listening habits, but now my toddler affects my stats. According to them, my most-played genre and artist were Soundtracks and Phil Collins (thanks, toddler Tarzan obsession). Here's what came second:

And now, let's chat about my favorite albums of the year! Last year I listened to more playlists and individual songs, but this year each month became associated with a different favorite album. These twelve topped my list!

Heard It in a Past Life by Maggie Rogers – Thank goodness for the random Instagram story that put this album on my radar! It's one of the albums on my list that I've gone back to all year because it's just that good.

thank u, next by Ariana Grande – I wasn't a fan of Ariana Grande until the music video for the title track. What can I say? The 13 Going on 30 reference got to me. The whole album ended up being so great!

Six: The Musical by Studio Cast – I'm not a fan of musicals, in general, but I told Kelly about this one and saw it with her in London. And dang it all if I didn't end up listening to this for almost a month to relive the memories.

GIRL by Maren Morris – Marren's debut albums was one of my very favorites the year it came out, and I couldn't wait for this release. While I didn't love it quite as much as the first, it was still such a fun listen overall!

Moonlight by JOHNNYSWIM – I was so excited when I found out this album was coming out, and it became a spring staple for me. Their voices together are just so powerful. I love this partnership and what they produce!

The Hurting Kind by John Paul White – Both halves of The Civil Wars (RIP) released albums this year, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed White's. It prompted me to spend some time with his older albums, too.

Front Porch by Joy Williams – I adored Williams' previous album and couldn't wait for this one. I'm so happy that it lived up to my expectations! I'll always miss The Civil Wars, but I'm glad I have their solo stuff at least.

No. 6 Collaborations Project by Ed Sheeran – This is my least favorite on the list and of all Sheeran's albums, but I listened to it enough (especially a few specific tracks) that I had to include it. Not his best, but still fun.

LOVER by Taylor Swift – Based on the first singles, I expected to be disappointed by this album. Thankfully, the exact opposite happened! I've been obsessed with this one and loved Swift's new direction. Gimme more!

new skin by VÉRITÉ – I loved VÉRITÉ's previous album, but this one took a little longer to grow on me. While I still prefer the first, I did enjoy this album overall and ended up with several songs that will remain long-term favorites.

Ocean by Lady Antebellum – I don't listen to a ton of country anymore, but this album was on my repeat all of November after I watched their CMA performance with Halsey. I loved it more each listen!

Fine Line by Harry Styles – Despite the fact that I never cared about One Direction, I've enjoyed following all of their solo careers. Styles has been my favorite of them all, and this album is even better than his first.

What was your favorite album in 2019? 
Were there any songs that defined your year?

My Year in Books {2019}

Dec 26, 2019

It's hard to believe that another year – and decade! – is about to come to a close. Before it does, I want to take a moment to look back at the past twelve months. Since 2015, I've done a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to share my favorites from each year. It's one reason I love blogging in December so much. There were so many things I loved about 2019, but today it's all about the books! • Books in 2016, 2017, and 2018

In 2019, I've finished 207 books. That's only 15 books less than last year – which was the most I'd ever read in a year since I started tracking it in 2011! According to Goodreads, that's been approximately 80,306 pages so far (not counting all the pages I've read to my son)... and there's still a chance I'll sneak in another book or two before 2020 officially starts. At least I hope so! I almost held off on writing this post for that very reason.

Every year I break up my list of favorites a little differently. When I looked at this year's list, it worked best to sort my favorites by genre. But with that breakdown, I ended up with 21 favorites. Oops? That is only 10% of what I read, however, so I hope you'll bear with me! But if I had to narrow my list down to Top 10, you'll see a red heart () following the titles that would make the cut. Clicking on any title will take you to my review for the book, if you want to know more about why I loved it. Here's to finding new favorites in 2020!


1. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center While it doesn't hold a candle to Happiness for Beginners (for me), this was just what I needed at the time I read it. I loved the theme, and the ending left me with a smile.

2. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan The first book didn't wow me, but the sequel and conclusion were just so much dang fun! I flew through both books and was delighted by the drama, the setting, and the sheer excess. 

3. The Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta  – I've been so impatient for Jimmy's story, and this was worth the wait. The way it explored family, community, and identity stayed with me long after I closed the last page.

4. Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane ♥ – If you make me tear up on an airplane, you've more than earned your spot on my list. The heroine's journey was so moving, and I was rooting for her every step of the way.

5. American Royals by Katharine McGee This book combined two things I love (American history and royalty) in such a clever and creative way. It had all the drama and romance that I wanted, and now I just need the sequel!

6. The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary ♥  I was expecting something light and fluffy, and instead I got something with so much heart and depth. This was the perfect book to read on my flight to London and then rave about to Kelly


7. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow ♥  What a debut! The lyrical writing made the magical premise shine, and it made me so happy to be a book lover who can explore other worlds any time I choose. 

8. Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers ♥  The series extension that I didn't know I needed! I love the original trilogy, and this dualogy is already shaping up to be just as excellent. A great combo of politics and personal drama!

9. Circe by Madeline Miller  – I know almost nothing about Greek mythology, but Miller made her heroine so compelling that I couldn't stop listening to this story. This is one I'm extra excited to re-read in the future.


10. Lovely War by Julie Berry ♥  My very favorite book of the year... and the only one on this list that I haven't reviewed. It was so original and perfect that I want to keep it all to myself and make everyone around me read it. 

11. We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter ♥ – My first read of 2019, and the perfect book to kick off a new year of reading. It set the bar high! I still can't believe it was inspired by the true story of the author's family. 

12. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee I expected to read a few pages and set this one aside, but it completely surprised me. I loved the people in this generational saga and learned so much about Korean and Japanese history. 

13. The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton – I'd sworn off Morton after hating one of her books, so I'm totally shocked that I read this and that it's making my list. The writing and slow unraveling of this mystery won me over!

14. Lady of the Eternal City by Kate Quinn – With the exception of the second book, Quinn's Rome series had me absolutely hooked! The setting, the research, the characters, the writing, the emotion – I could praise it all.

15. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid ♥ – It's hard to put into words all the reasons I loved this book, so I'll let this do the talking: I loved it so much in January that I re-read it in November. A top five of 2019, for sure. 


16. Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson – I'm delighted that Jackson tackled a new genre with ease. This one never went in the direction I expected (yay surprises!) while being exactly what I wanted from a domestic thriller. 

17. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim ♥ – Nothing about this summary drew me in, but almost everything about it stayed with me long after I'd finished reading. This one was paced and plotted in a way that worked perfectly for me.

18. A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn – My favorite in the series so far! This has the best slow burn, and the mystery was quite enjoyable, too. I loved how the setting heightened the suspense (and romantic tension). 


19. Luck of the Draw by Kate Clayborn – I loved the friendship at the heart of this series, thought all three packed an emotional punch, and couldn't stop reading once I'd started. All three are great, but this one was my favorite.

20. The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez – If you're looking something that's hilarious, romantic and "grab your tissues" emotional, this is it. I particularly loved the way it handled one storyline that I rarely see in books.

21. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren – This was the romantic comedy of my dreams (hate to love! fake dating! deeper themes!) and one that I'll almost certainly be re-reading via audiobook in 2020. 

What was your favorite book of 2019?
Are any of these on your list? Or on your TBR pile?

2018 End of Year Book Survey

Dec 23, 2019

Created & Hosted by Jamie from Perpetual Page-Turner
If you're looking at the title of this post and graphic closely and thinking, "2018? Is that typo?" The answer is... nope, you're reading that correctly. Jamie recently posted the 2019 version, which is when I realized that I'd never finished or posted last year's survey. I really do like having these as a record of my reading year, so I decided not to just skip it. I won't be sharing my 2019 answers until January, but I wanted to sneak this in before I share my 2019 recaps in a few days. I hope you enjoy this look back at 2018, even though it feels like forever ago.

1. Number of Books You Read: 222 books (highest since I started tracking in 2011!)
2. Number of Re-Reads: 45 re-reads
3. Genre You Read the Most From: Contemporary 

1. Best book you read in 2018?
Per usual, I refuse to choose just ONE. So, I've chosen one per genre:

CONTEMPORARY | Beartown by Fredrik Backman

FANTASY | Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

HISTORICAL | Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

MYSTERY | Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

NON-FICTION | The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie

ROMANCE | The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

As always, there are so many that I could have mentioned. Here's my top twenty of the year.

A NOTE: I challenged myself not to repeat any books in the answers below so that I could highlight a greater variety of books. It was difficult, but it helped me avoid using my twenty favorite books for every question!

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn't?
I was really excited for Sophie Kinsella's Surprise Me after loving her 2017 release. Sadly, this book felt like two very different stories (unsuccessfully) combined in to one. Plus, I was so frustrated by the premise. So disappointing!

3. Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book of 2018?

IN A GOOD WAY | I had no plans to read Still Me by Jojo Moyes until Kelly talked me into it, and I'm so glad she did. It redeemed that disaster of a second book (for me) and brought Lou's story full circle. I couldn't believe it!

IN A BAD WAY | After my successful Bestie Beatriz Binge in 2017, I was shocked by how much I disliked The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams. It surprised me because I know that she's capable of so much more.

4. Book you "pushed" the most people to read in 2018?
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I've gotten Kelly, my grandma, my mom,  and my sister to read it (and my cousin will eventually get to it). And I hope I've gotten some blog/bookstagram followers to read it, too!

5. Best series you started in 2018? Best sequel of 2018? Best series ender of 2018? Best series overall in 2018?

STARTED | As always, I had so many wonderful series starters to choose from. But Act Like It by Lucy Parker was the obvious winner! I adored Lanie and Richard, and the next two books were excellent, too.

SEQUEL | After thinking the second book was just okay, I was so pleased that A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn was such a fun addition to the series. It made me even more excited for what's to come.

ENDER | Is there any answer here besides Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas? The series finale that was years in the making delivered on ALL THE FEELS. I honestly still can't believe it's over, but what a memorable journey.

OVERALL | I'm cheating here, but my favorite series overall was The Rose Trilogy by Jennifer Donnelly. I'd read the first two long before blogging, but re-reading felt like the first time. The overall experience was magical!

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?
There were some strong contenders for this answer, but I've got to hand it to Mary Balogh! I read three of her books at the very end of 2017, and then went on to read 15 more in 2018. Talk about a  Balogh backlist binge!

7. Best book from a genre you don't typically read?
I rarely read essay collections, if that counts a genre, but loved I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel. I've enjoyed following Bogel's blog over the years, so it's no surprise that this book about books was a win for me.

8. Most action-packed, thrilling, unputdownable book in 2018?
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith is the first thing that came to mind here. It's my favorite in the series, so far, and managed to capture my attention while moving and unpacking. I didn't want to put it down!

9. Book you read in 2018 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
I don't know how I would have answered this at the end of 2018, but I obviously know what I did/didn't re-read in 2019. So, I've got to say His Captive Lady by Anne Gracie since that's what I did end up re-reading.

10. Most memorable character in 2018?
The quirky, endearing heroine of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, without a doubt. She's unlike any other character I've ever read, and she remains so vivid in my mind to this day.

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?
Here are four of my favorites: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin, One Day in December by Josie Silver, and The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan. 

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?
In the spirit of not featuring the same book twice, I'm going to go with an unexpected choice: Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce. It isn't technically the best writing I read all year, but the voice is what made me LOVE this book so much.

13. Most thought-provoking book in 2018?
When I was looking through what I'd read in 2018, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah definitely stood out as the most thought provoking. He's a gifted storyteller and writes about heavy subjects with so much insight, wit, and honesty.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read?
Years ago, I read and loved The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly. Why didn't I ever finish the trilogy?! I rectified that oversight in 2018 by re-reading the first two and then falling in love with The Wild Rose.

15. Book that shocked you the most?
Ghosted by Rosie Walsh wasn't an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but the story went in a direction that I didn't expect based on how it began. I thought that took it from a mostly forgettable read to something surprising.

16. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2018?
Since all of my monthly recaps feature favorite quotes, I have too many options! But here are three standouts:

“The seasons teach us how to do life well, revealing a life-giving rhythm: we flourish through intentional periods of stillness, growth, hard work, and rest.” – Cultivate by Lara Casey 

“I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

“Learn to say no. And when you do, don’t complain and don’t explain. Every excuse you make is like an invitation to ask you again in a different way.” – Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan

17. Shortest & longest book you read in 2018?
Biographic Austen by Sophie Collins was the shortest at 96 pages. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas was the longest at 980 pages, and The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon was a close second at 979 pages. 

18. OTP of the year?
With so many options, this is always one of the toughest categories for me to narrow it down! But Calla and Jonah in The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker had a hate-to-love dynamic that made them my favorite romance of the year. 

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?

CO-WORKERS | I hate the residents of Three Pines, but I love the dynamic between Inspector Gamache and his fellow detectives in Still Life by Louise Penny. It's been the highlight of the four books I've read so far.

FRIENDSHIP | I really loved the friendship that developed between the three main characters of When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger. I loved how they empowered one another! 

FAMILY | The Hathaways series by Lisa Kleypas definitely featured one of my favorite families of the year. This was a fun series to binge, and I loved how the siblings all interacted with one another over the course of all five books.

20. Favorite book you read in 2018 from an author you've read previously?
The only book I'd tried previously from Sarah McCoy was one I'd decided not to finish, but I thoroughly enjoyed her 2018 release, Marilla of Green Gables. It was a great backstory for this beloved character.

21. Best book you read in 2018 that you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else?
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton was a surprise 2018 favorite that I only read because Estelle recommended it. The summary didn't appeal to me initially, but the story inside was something that I would have hated to miss.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?
Some of my top fictional crushes belong in books that I've already mentioned in this post, so I'll go with Percival Hayes (what an awful name!) from Only a Kiss by Mary Balogh. I just loved his growth throughout the book.

23. Best 2018 debut you read?
In my 2017 survey, I mentioned that My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan was one of my most-anticipated 2018 debuts. Thankfully, it lived up to my expectations! I loved this one so much that I ended up re-reading it in 2019, too.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2018?
I waited to read Laini Taylor's Strange the Dreamer until I could follow it with Muse of Nightmares, and that was the best decision. I loved binging these two! The vivid setting was one of the most memorable aspects of the books.

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2018?
This a tie between two books! Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm was an unexpected delight, and Roomies by Christina Lauren was one of my favorite contemporary romances of the year. Both made me so happy!

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2018?
It takes a lot to make me cry in a book, so there weren't many contenders for this crown. This year it's going to The Virgin's War by Laura Andersen. I still remember texting Kelly a photo of my tear-streaked face.

27. Hidden gem of the year?
To find a hidden gem, I start by looking at the number of ratings on Goodreads. With that in mind, A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh was an under-the-radar favorite. And I'm hard to please with Christmas books!

28. Book that crushed your soul?
I don't know if anything truly crushed my soul, but Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman certainly came close – though both have uplifting moments, too. Both were moving reads and written so sensitively. 

29. Most unique book you read in 2018?
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff was unlike anything else I read this year. The format shouldn't work... and yet, it feels so right and is done so brilliantly. I love how it was adapted for audiobook, too!

30. Book that made you the maddest?
There were a surprising number of books that made me mad in 2018, but my resentment towards The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah has probably lingered the longest. It was like a Lifetime movie and was way too hyped.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2018?
I don't remember if I discovered any new book blogs in 2018, but I do know that it's the year I started to get more involved on bookstagram. One of my very favorite discoveries was Kayla from @idlewildreads – and she blogs, too.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2018?
I wrote a few series reviews that I was proud of – one for Mary Balogh's Survivors' Club series and one for Laura Andersen's Tudor trilogy. And I loved my review for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.  

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
If I'm defining "best" as personal favorite, I have two from 2018: my reflections on motherhood and my thyroid cancer story. Both were outside the norm for me since they were more personal rather than bookish.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I didn't participate in any real-life bookish events, but I did a few blogging collaborations that I loved. My favorite was Light Up the Darkness – a Throne of Glass series celebration with Kelly, Rachel, and Alexa. 

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?
It isn't anything major, but I was very excited to reach a fun milestone in 2018: I published my 1,000th post! It was nice to reflect on the past, share some of my favorite things I've ever written, and celebrate sticking with this hobby.

6. Most challenging thing about your blogging or reading life this year?
Often, it's deciding whether my time spent blogging is worth it when the stats make it look/feel like it's not. I love this space and wish my audience would magically grow without doing anything to make that happen. Ha!

7. Most popular post this year on your blog?
There were three posts that were all close in popularity! The first was What Throne of Glass Means to Me. And the other two were about a few of my Happy Planners: my book/blogging one and my reading log

8. Post you wished got a little more love?
Is it a cop out to say reviews? Because honestly, that could always be the answer. Otherwise, I spend more time on my annual summer books + bags post than I probably should based on how many views it actually gets.

9. Best bookish discovery?
I loved finding A Color Story app for editing and planning bookstagram photos, treating myself to a new Kindle, updating my blog design, and finding my perfect library tote. All four became new obsessions! 

10. Did you complete any reading challenge or goals that you set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I completed three! I met my Goodreads goal for the year, read something for every category of Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2018 Reading Challenge, and checked off another year of the Picky Pledge Challenge with Alexa.

1. One book you didn't get to in 2018 but will be your number one priority in 2019?
I have no idea what I would have said in 2018 – but probably Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak? His first book in like ten years, purchased when it released in October, but still hadn't gotten to it by the end of the year.

2. Non-debut book you are most anticipating for 2019?
As if I could stick to one! Here were three early 2019 releases that I was most excited about: Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane, Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers, and The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker.

3. 2019 debut you are most anticipating?
There were several that I remember being really excited to add on Goodreads, but my most-anticipated adult debut was The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary and young adult was Enchantée by Gita Trelease.

4. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2019?
It didn't seem like many series were ending in 2019, but I couldn't wait to get my hands on The Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta. It's not exactly a series (and I'd love more with this friend group), but I'm counting it.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2019?
What would 2018 me have said here? Probably grow my bookstagram account. I started trying to post there more often in the later half of that year, and I was curious whether I'd want to transition to that instead of blogging.

6. A 2019 release you've already read and recommend to everyone?
At the end of the year, I'd only read one 2019 release – and it's a stretch to say that I'd recommend it to everyone. But that book was The Gown by Jennifer Robson, which I did enjoy! The cover is what first caught my eye.

Yay! 2018 is old news now, but I'm glad I got this posted.
Time for me to start working on 2019 though...
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