2013 – A Year In Review

fireworksIt’s totally cliché, but where the hell has this year gone? With today being the very last day of 2013 I figured I’d do a quick “Year in Review” post to talk about my progress with reading challenges and also to discuss my favorite books of the year!

Quick rundown on how I did with my reading challenges: I successfully read 120 books this year. In fact, as of the time of writing this post I am at 199 books for the year! (WOOT!) You can see all the books I’ve read with links to their reviews here. Now, a bit of bad news. I utterly failed (for the second year in a row) the audio book challenge. I didn’t listen to 1 audio book this year (read: pathetic.) I also didn’t do so great with the Book to Movie challenge either, with only 2 out of 12 read. Now, to the good news: I completed 78% of the Color Coded Challenge, or 7 out of 9 reads. I actually had a blast doing this challenge. You don’t realize how many books use colors in their titles until you do a challenge like this! Additionally, I unsurprisingly completed the Historical Fiction Challenge as well as the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary challenge with no trouble at all.

And now for the difficult part: Picking my favorite reads of 2013.

  1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  2. The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley (look for my review next week!!!)
  3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  4. The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers/Making It Last by Ruthie Knox
  5. Beauty and the Billionaire by Jessica Clare
  6. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
  7. Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander/Easy by Tammara Webber
  8. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
  9. Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost
  10. The Secret of Ella and Micha/The Forever of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

Having read almost 200 books this year, choosing 10 (really 12) of my favorites almost killed me. So, in the effort of easing my conscience I’m giving you some of my runners-up (in no particular order)!

  1. Pride, Prejudice, and the Perfect Match by Marilyn Brant
  2. The Edelstein Trilogie by Kersin Gier (Book one, two, & three)
  3. The Westfield Wolves/Regency Vampyre Series by Lydia Dare
  4. Return to Longbourn by Shannon Winslow
  5. The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
  6. Losing It by Cora Carmack
  7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  8. Bittersweet by Noelle Adams

This was hands down the hardest year yet to pick my favorite books. When you read almost 200 books in a year I guess that should be expected, no?

Ok, the burden is being passed to you. What did you love reading this year?!? Please let us know below. And finally, enjoy the rest of your New Year’s Day, hopefully with a great book. See you in 2014!

Kim’s Review of Holiday Man by Marilyn Brant

hmmbI have a massive soft spot for old movies. I’m talking black and white old.  It all started when I was about 7 years old and my aunt introduced me to an old Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire film called Holiday Inn.  The premise of the film was that an inn in Connecticut only opens on holidays! (Thinking back on this, maybe it’s Holiday Inn that started me on my love of Connecticut?!) Anyway – I LOVED this movie. I still watch int every holiday season.  After reading Pride, Prejudice, and the Perfect Match by Marilyn Brant and seriously enjoying it, I started looking into other Brant novels.  I came across Holiday Man which sounded a lot like a modern-day Holiday Inn! I tweeted with Marilyn back and forth and found out that yes, it was loosely based on the film!  I knew then and there I had my next Marilyn Brant read.

Shannon Quinn is your quintessential small town girl.  She is personable, cheerful, and an all around good person.  She is the sole proprietor of Holiday Quinn, a resort getaway that is only opened during holiday weekends.  Located in scenic Door County, Wisconsin, Shannon’s establishment is running along smoothly until a businessman from Milwaukee, Bram Hartwick, enters the picture.  Not only does Bram totally throw Shannon off-balance, but both he and Shannon prove to be quite a pair as the heat is turned up on their relationship.  Will Shannon be able to keep her mind off of Bram in order to run her business?  Will Bram succeed in catching this woman whom he has found so intoxicating?

This book was so much fun to read!  I’ve actually come to expect this from Brant’s novels.  The characters are delightfully normal, the writing is humorous, and the romance is sexy!  Bram and Shannon are equally intriguing characters.  I loved how normal they were!  How many times do we as individuals make assumptions about something or someone only to have our assumptions be wrong.  That’s what Bran and Shannon’s relationship was like.  The two had all these misconceptions about each other that unfortunately led to misunderstanding after misunderstanding.  Eventually they figured out that communication was necessary if they ever stood a chance at being together.  I was thrilled that Brant gave them a realistic problem with a realistic solution.

It gets boring sometimes reading books that dwell on complete fantasy.  Sure, everyone needs a bit of the fantastical sometimes, but a healthy dose of realism does the mind good too.  Everyone wants to believe in true love and Brant’s books allow just that.  The ability to dream that there is that perfect person for all of us out there.  And if she chooses to write that story as an ode to Holiday Inn?  Well, that’s a-ok in my book.

4 out of 5 Stars

Holiday Man by Marilyn Brant
Twelfth Night Books (2012)
eBook: 741 pages
ISBN: 2940015845464

Kim’s Guest Review of Pride, Prejudice, and the Perfect Match by Marilyn Brant

pppmMy first guest review of 2013 hit the Austenprose blog yesterday.  I reviewed Pride, Prejudice, and the Perfect Match by Marilyn Brant.  It’s a contemporary adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that takes us into the world of online dating and the like.  Personally, I really enjoyed it, so much so that I even delayed viewing the season premiere of Downton Abbey!

My full review can be found here.

This is my first completed review for the Pride and  Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge