Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016: Books and TV Shows

While most people are excited about baking Christmas cookies and wrapping presents, I'm excited to start making my "end of the year" lists. First up, books and TV shows!

I read 22 books in 2016.  Here are my 5 favorites:

5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I read a few suspense novels this year...and of them, this was my favorite. As the title suggests, it is certainly dark. Gillian Flynn can certainly tell a twisted story. This was full of surprises, and it gave me goosebumps...multiple times. If you were a fan of Gone Girl, I'd highly recommend this.

4. In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. I really wasn't sure about this novel when I first started reading. There were so many characters, each giving their point of view, and in the first few chapters I found it confusing to keep up and differentiate between the characters. Once I started to understand who the characters were and how they were connected with each other, I got really into the story and found it harder and harder to put down the book.

3.  The Problem With Forever by Jennifer Armentrout. It's no secret that I love Young Adult Fiction. I find it fascinating to get in the heads of these coming of age stories, and I often find pieces of myself in the characters. It is both heart wrenching and heart warming, and grabs you right from the start. I related to Mallory and her anxiety in so many ways- and I loved how raw the author made it. It's a high school romance, sure, but unlike any I've ever read before.

2. Where Am I Now? By Mara Wilson. You know the adorable little girl from Mrs. Doubtfire, Matilda, and Miracle on 34th Street? Well, now she's this spunky, funny, wise young lady. I started following her on Twitter a few years ago because I kept seeing her witty tweets popping up on my feed. She is very in tune with world happenings. I was excited to read her memoir because I loved her movies when I was a kid, and love her blog and Twitter account now. I'm so glad I read this book. Mara is a wonderful storyteller- in her memoir she shares memories of being a child actor, of friendships and dating, of losing her mother from cancer at the age of 8. She also opens up about her Obsessive Compulsive disorder, and how she has learned to adapt to it. A terrific, authentic memoir.

1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. This is a powerful, moving novel that I could barely put down. Kristin Hannah is known for her love stories. And while The Nightingale certainly has love stories woven it, this book is so much more than that. It is about two sisters during wartime, it is about women and their strength during wartime. It's a fantastic read, and one that I recommended to just about everyone.

Honorable Mentions: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight.

What were your favorite books that you read this year?

Next, my favorite TV shows I watched.

Full disclosure, I don't watch a lot of TV. I was going to do movies...but that's even more limited. So, here we go.

5. This Is Us. I knew I was going to love This Is Us the moment I saw a preview for it. With the same writers from Parenthood, how could you go wrong? My gut feeling was correct. The show is amazing. Some of the acting could be better, but the heartfelt writing is there. I'm always wondering what the next twist will be.

4. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. This show just brings me so much joy. It is hilarious, upbeat, and full of pop culture references. I laugh so hard watching this show, I often have to pause it and rewind to hear it again. I cannot wait for season 3.

3. Nashville.  I have loved Nashville since it started in 2012. Season 4 was jam packed with drama, love stories, and, of course, music. My heart broke for Juliette, who was struggling with some serious depression. I went through the ups and downs of Rayna and Deacon and Scarlett and Gunner. I love this show, it's twists and it's ability to capture me with the music!

2. American Idol. 2016 was the last year for American Idol (for now,.....) and although this year's group were not my favorite group of contestants, I still enjoyed the season. My favorite contestants were Olivia, Mackenzie, Trent, La Porsha, and Avalon. Admittedly, I haven't really kept up with any of them post Idol. What I loved most about the last season was that they brought back old contestants. Kelly Clarkson's emotional performance of her song "Piece by Piece" was one of the highlights of the season. Also, the finale was basically a giant nostalgia fest and really showcased past favorite contestants. I'll miss American Idol, but I will forever cherish all the memories it has given me.

1. Orange is the New Black. Season 4 premiered on Netflix on June 17th, and I was finished with the season by June 18th.  I know there was a ton of negative feedback surrounding the season, but I loved it. It was much darker than previous seasons, but I thought they did an excellent job of portraying just how corrupt our prison system is, as well as playing out real life issues like racism, police brutality, and sexual assault. Also, I have never in my life cried so hard over the death of a character. I felt like someone in my real life had died. I still think about the ending of that season, I talked about it nonstop for weeks. I cannot wait to see what they do with Season 5.

Honorable Mentions: Fuller House & Modern Family

What were your favorite shows this year?

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