Dec 31, 2013

My Favorite Albums of 2013

What this year lacked in good books for me more than made up for with amazing music finds.  There were a lot of comebacks this year to be excited about, but mostly there were some great newbs that got my attention.  In fact, I found that most of the comeback albums I was excited about were overshadowed by the amazing newcomers.  My favorite thing about this list is how diverse the sounds are.  Last year was a lot of indie-folk.  This year we have pop, rock, indie and even some hip-hop…what.
Without further ado…

My Favorite Comebacks


No surprise here.  I don't know if they will ever top High Violet for me, but this one comes pretty close.


Again, no surprise.  Well, the one major surprise was that this little side project of Justin Vernon's apparently escaped me.  I had no idea this was going on and this is their second album!  I adore it.  It's my chill music.  It sounds like a beautiful day outdoors.


What can I say?  Still as powerful, raw and gorgeous.  I'll never not love these guys.


She just doesn't get enough props.  Her radio hits are never as good as the other songs on the album.  Just fantastic.


Here's a no-contest band for me.  They blew me away with their debut Passive Me Aggressive You in 2010, and their sophomore album doesn't disappoint.  This is my workout music.  It gets under your skin.

My Favorite Discoveries


This was one of my favorite finds this year.  It's super mellow and a little morose.


The buzz band of the year, I'd say.  I was a fan from the first time I heard this sister trio.  Fresh and fun.  I CANNOT STOP LISTENING TO THIS ALBUM.
If you're on my side of the pond and wish to go see them in concert in Frankfurt on Feb 22, let me know!  I need a concert-going friend.



My absolute favorite find of the year.  I first heard this band on my Mumford station on iTunes Radio.  From that one song, I was clicking the buy button.  This is their debut album.  They're from Montreal and…hey, why don't you just read my article about them on Confront.

Surprising Favorites


I appreciate anything bold and original.  And what's more bold and original than a 17 year old Australian girl taking on hip-hop and totally owning it.


This is my running music so it's actually hard not to hate it a little bit.  No, I'm kidding.  I don't usually go for this poppy stuff, but this is just too fun not to love.

Disappointments

I hate to be a Debby-downer, but when an artist I've loved comes out with a bad album, I get a little angry.  Usually it's either because they've changed or because they've gotten full of themselves.

I won't say this album is bad, because honestly, I've only listened to it like twice.  It just felt over-the-top a bit.  The whole thing has this "let's spell reflector wrong and make it a two-disc album because we can" feeling.  Get over yourselves, guys.  They need to come back to earth and make another Suburbs.  I'll keep listening and hopefully I'll warm up to it eventually.  It just hasn't happened yet.  Apparently, I'm not the only one feeling defeated at the first listen.

Let's Be Still - The Head and the Heart
I hate/love this album.  Meaning I love a few of the songs, and hate all the rest.  They took a working formula from their debut album and entirely ditched it.  I hate to be mean, I really do, but I also hate when a great band goes bat-shit crazy.  Don't believe me?  Track 4.  Enough said.

Well, I won't end on a mean note.  Even the albums I disliked, I disliked because I love the bands so much.  There were plenty of train-wreck'ier albums put out in 2013.  And on the bright side, this has actually been a great year of pop, and that's saying a lot coming from me.

What were your music favorites of the year?

Dec 19, 2013

My favorite books of 2013 {the.book.chat}

It's that time of year again!  I love looking back at the year, remembering all of the favorites that the year has brought into my life, whether it be moments, music, movies or books.  Today, on book chat day, I'm sharing my favorite reads of 2013.

Sadly, with all that this year held for us, (you know, moving to Europe and all), I did not even come close to reaching my reading goal.  And what's more…I found that I read a lot of okay books and not many really blew me away.  What a major bummer.  In fact, it's sort of left me with this blasé reading appetite lately.
Enough with the melancholy.  Today is about the good stuff.  So, here are the best books I read this year.  I do have to say though…the few that did blow me away…really f*&%ing blew me away.

In no particular order…

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
This was the last great book I've read.  If you've ever thought Paranormal YA was all frivolous, this puts that idea to rest.  It was so heart-ripping and gut-crunchingly romantic -- and not all boy/girl romantic, but that all-encompasing romantic.   I loved the writing, the setting, the fantasy, the chemistry, the romance.  In sequel, she changed the setting and split up the couple, so it was less lovable, but I'm still looking forward to the final book.  It's really a great series.
See the playlist I created for the book here.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
What a book.  This was the book I was hurling at people insistently this year.  What, you know how to read? Here: read this.
See my full review here.


My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
Look here.  This Brashares lady should be behind bars for the soul-crushing she did with this book.  No, really though.  We have the potential for a real mutiny here and a few of have even stalked her down on Twitter for a sequel.  She told us that the publishers put the halt down on the next book, so you know…we're gonna burn that mother down.  I see picket signs and chanting.  I'd lay down in front of a bulldozer if that's what it's going to take.  We need more of Daniel and Lucy.
This book did things to me.


Lover At Last by J.R. Ward
I was SO (I mean SO) excited about this book.  These two characters have played on the sidelines for so long that we were able to watch them grow up and fall in love and I feared the debate of writing a m/m love story in a mainstream series would never happen.  I couldn't care less that they were both dudes…one of them could have been a toaster for all I cared.  I love these characters and this story and this world and all of it.  This is the only cheesy-romance series I read, and it's my major guilty pleasure so just leave me alone about it.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
A beautiful two-part love story, written by a new favorite author of mine.  Parts were set in a small French village during WWI and having just moved over here, I felt like this book just came to life for me.
See my full review here.


So, those are my favorites of the year.  These were the books that kept me up at night and bursting into tears for no reason during the day.  I wish there had been more, but I guess I prefer quality over quantity.  I hope this next year will be more settled and I will be able to get more reading done.  I also wish I had read more of the buzz books of the year.  There were so many great new releases that I didn't even have a chance to read yet.  There's always next year.

So, what about you?  What were your favorite books of the year?  Please link up with us and go check out our co-hosts posts as well!

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To join in...
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Dec 12, 2013

My Book'ish Christmas List {the.book.chat.}

Books are a great go-to gift because they are so personlize-able.   There is literally a book for everyone.  Expect maybe Kanye West, but who wants to buy for that guy anyway?  I love getting books, new/used, fiction/non, all of the above.  So, here's a few I've had my eye on lately.  And you can share your list too by linking up at the bottom.



I've heard great things about this writing memoir/guide by Anne Lamott.  Sounds right up my alley.


Her story is fascinating, but her principles and ideas are even more so.  I would love to see what this book holds.


I have yet to make a P.W. recipe that wasn't cry-worthy delicious.  I made her Fancy Mac & Cheese for Thanksgiving and it made my wobbly at the knees (if not also a little fat in the thighs).


I can't believe I haven't read this yet.  I raved about both of his other books.  I've heard this one doesn't disappoint.


I need a good YA Dystopia in my life, and this one has been unavoidable.  I want.



Oh yes, yes I did.  I asked for a Thesaurus for Christmas.

So, that's all from me.  What books are you hoping to find under the tree?  Or maybe you have some bookish gift ideas you want to share.  Please link up with us!


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To join in...
1. Please follow the host and co-host
2. Visit a few other book chat links and show some support.
3. Link back here in your post.  Or use the button provided.
4. Old posts are always welcome if you have blogged on the topic before.



Next week's topic: Your favorite books of 2013!

Dec 5, 2013

I'm Back!!

I'm giving my blog a big, wet, slightly-awkward kiss right now.  I've missed blogging a LOT.  So, as many of you know, I took November off from the blog to participate in National Novel Writing Month.  I have a little recap of that and more coming your way today, but first, I have to just say again how much I've missed all of you and reading blogs and this month has reinforced the belief that I am meant to blog, no matter what else I'm doing in life.  I'm a blogger.  Through and through.

So, on top of NaNoWriMo recap, stick around because I have some news about The Book Chat to share as well!

Okay, so about NaNo.  The goal was to finish 50,000 words in the month.  I made it 40,000, but honestly guys, I'm not upset about not reaching my goal.  I had a lot going on this month.  Jeremy was gone for most of the month leaving me to single-mom it the whole time.  But this isn't about making excuses.  The best thing I gained from this experience is that I know what I need to adjust to make this career goal more realistic.  I didn't finish the novel, but I'm not done.  I'm still working on it everyday and it will be finished and it will be published.  Just because I didn't finish it in 30 days doesn't matter at all.  I am so thankful for NaNo for giving the drive and motivation to reach this major turning point.  This was not a hobby to me.  This is my new career and without NaNo, I might have put it off for another and another and another year.

There were days I chose not to write because I wasn't "feeling it" or there was a good movie on or other "purposeful procrastination" things getting in the way.  I have my own personal hurdles to overcome, but I just keep driving forward making little changes one-by-one, and I know I will get there eventually.

So, look forward to the big "It's done!" announcement.  I hope to have the first draft done by the end of December.  Then, revisions!  {groan}

The Book Chat is back!

That's right.  I need some book chatters in my life, right now.  I have a couple fun book chat topics for December.  I need ideas for January.  I don't know if we'll go back to every week book chats, but I think we'll let the book chat inspiration come to us.  So, here are the topics for this month.  My favorites book chat topics!

December 12: What books are on your Christmas wish list?  Or you can share book-lover's gift ideas.
December 19: Top 10 of 2013

Oh yeah…it's that time of year again!  Share your favorite books of the year.  They can be new releases or your 10 favorite books of the year.  I usually just post my 10 favorite reads of the year.  I love making this list.

So, that's exciting, right?!  I hope you all join.  

I have some other great posts coming this month.  We went to Prague last week, and OH SO MANY great pictures of that coming your way.  Plus some travel tip posts.  And of course my favorite top 10 of the year posts.

So, what about you, friends?  How was your November?  Did you do NaNo and how did you do?  Any exciting blog news I should know?