My 2014 Reading Recap!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

2014 has finally come to an end, and I’ve read some great books in the process! To recap, I have completed 20 books, totaling over 6,877 pages! Eight of these were audiobooks, which goes to show how valuable my commute is in staying on track to meet my quota.

The video above discusses my top five books in detail, but below is the full list from best to worst. 2014 was all about comedic memoirs and chick-lit, with a few YA fantasies and works of literary fiction in the mix. I’m excited to see what’s in store for the new year!

Rating: 5 out of 5
1. Yes Please – Amy Poehler (2014)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
2. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan (2014)
3. Hollow City – Ransom Riggs (2014)

Rating: 4 out of 5
4. The Engagements – J. Courtney Sullivan (2013)
5. Wedding Night – Sophie Kinsella (2013)
6. Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld (2014)
7. When We Were Orphans – Kazuo Ishiguro (2000)
8. A Well-Tempered Heart – Jan-Philipp Sendker (2014)
9. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson (2012)
10. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han (2014)
11. My Horizontal Life – Chelsea Handler (2004)
12. A Lot Like Love – Julie James (2011)
13. About That Night – Julie James (2012)
14. Love Irresistibly – Julie James (2013)

Rating: 3 out of 5
15. I Know I Am, But What Are You? – Samantha Bee (2011)
16. The Bedwetter – Sarah Silverman (2010)
17. Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham (2014)
18. Deeply, Desperately – Heather Webber (2010)
19. Absolutely, Positively – Heather Webber (2011)

Rating: 2 out of 5
20. Reached – Ally Condie (2012)

So have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think? And what were your top five books of 2014?

Book Review: The Engagements

Image via Amazon

Rating: 4 out of 5

I was intrigued by J. Courtney Sullivan’s The Engagements after reading that it was awarded one of People Magazine’s top ten books of the year, so I was excited to win a copy from a Goodreads contest. After finishing the novel, I’ll say that even if I had to purchase it, it would be well worth the cost.

Whether you’re recently engaged, been married for decades, or have no desire to ever head to the altar, you will enjoy this book. The Engagements is a well-researched look into the engagement ring industry and all the economic, social, and political change it incited. It appeals to people from all walks of life as it narrates the stories of five individuals throughout history, from the 1940s to today.

It begins with Frances Gerety, the real-life ad woman who coined “A Diamond is Forever” in 1947 for De Beers while working for the agency N.W. Ayer. As an unmarried woman in her thirties, she was already branded as a spinster when in fact she simply enjoyed the single life. Even though her slogan became the best advertising has ever seen, it was fascinating to peer into her struggles as a woman in a man’s world.

The timeline jumps forward to a retired teacher during the 1970s named Evelyn, who is distraught by her adult son’s divorce and subsequent relationship with the other woman. Then in the 1980s, we meet James, a paramedic who is consumed by guilt over failing to financially provide for his family. In 2003, a Parisian woman named Delphine leaves her husband for a much younger American violinist, only to utterly trash his apartment after catching him cheating. Finally, in 2012, Kate is a cohabitating parent who must plan for her cousin’s gay wedding even though she abhors the institution of marriage.

I must warn that not all these characters are likeable; they each have their own personality flaws and instead represent a vast swath of perspectives. Readers who are more socially conservative will disapprove of Delphine’s adultery and the inclusion of a homosexual couple. Even though I can relate to Kate’s concern about blood diamonds, her character as a tightly wound Debbie Downer can be tiring, especially when spouting off her granola style of parenting.

That being said, I appreciated how Sullivan approaches marriage from many angles without sugarcoating any of them. I also enjoyed diving into each story within this story, because where else can you learn about engagement rings, ambulance driving, classical music, copywriting, and post-9/11 discrimination all at once?

Big thanks to Goodreads and Vintage Books for awarding me this copy. I highly recommend The Engagements and will be suggesting it to all my friends about to tie the knot!

Inspiration for Your Book-Themed Wedding

‘Tis the season for weddings! I seem to be at an age where people are getting hitched left and right…and up, down, and sideways! This summer I cat-sat for a former colleague while he tied the knot, and I recently accompanied a good friend to help her shop for her wedding dress and invitations.

I’m also reading The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan, a book I won in a Goodreads contest. Sullivan narrates the stories of five individuals from different time periods ranging from the 1940s when Frances Gerety penned “A Diamond is Forever” for De Beers to modern day when a woman named Kate refuses to marry her partner despite family pressure.

I haven’t finished reading the novel, so in the meantime, I wanted to share some Buzzfeed images in case anyone is interested in throwing a book-themed wedding. Whether you’re heading to the altar next summer or only in your dreams, feel free to drool over these fun ideas!

Wedding invites:

 

Cute centerpieces:

 

Book bouquets:

 

The perfect arch:

 

A dramatic shot:

Click on the link to see more great ideas, and don’t forget to check out Pinterest and Etsy as well. I think incorporating literature into your nuptials is an awesome way to express your personality and pull sentiments from some of your favorite stories.

Many libraries are gorgeous locations for engagement photos or wedding ceremonies, and love poetry makes for wonderful vows. The possibilities are endless!

So is a book-themed wedding your cup of tea? What kinds of stories would you incorporate and how?

 

This just in! I won my first book!

Image via Goodreads

Hi everyone!

I just had to share my excitement with you: I entered my very first contest on Goodreads recently, and out of over 1,300 participants, I was one of 25 winners! Woooo!!!

The giveaway held by Vintage and Anchor Books was for The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan. Although I’ve heard great things about her previous novel Commencement, I’m not yet familiar with Sullivan’s writing.

However, this novel had an excellent PR campaign, as I read stellar reviews in many publications, like People, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan.

You can read further details of the giveaway here, but below is the Goodreads summary of the book:

The bestselling author of Maine returns with an exhilarating novel about Frances Gerety, the real pioneering ad woman who coined the famous slogan “A Diamond is Forever,” and four unique marriages that will test how true—or not—those words might be.

Evelyn has been married to her husband for forty years, but their son’s messy divorce has put them at rare odds; James, a beleaguered paramedic, has spent most of his marriage haunted by his wife’s family’s expectations; Delphine has thrown caution to the wind and left a peaceful French life for an exciting but rocky romance in America; and Kate, partnered with Dan for a decade, has seen every kind of wedding and has vowed never, ever, to have one of her own. As the stories connect to each other and to Frances’s legacy in surprising ways, The Engagements explores the complicated ins and outs of relationships, then, now, and forever.

Although it was first published June 2013, Vintage released the paperback version on May 20. I’m excited to read something by an author who’s new to me, and I’m intrigued by this plot. As I’m approaching my quarter-century mark, it seems that engagements are popping up on my social media feeds left and right. Hopefully, this book will encompass the good, bad, and ugly of partnering up–and lives up to all the hype!

Anyone read this novel yet or one of Sullivan’s others? Let me know, since I’ll be waiting with anticipation for it to arrive in 4-6 weeks!