Goodbye, 2015.

In 2014, I changed jobs, graduated graduate school, and moved to a new home. In comparison, 2015 was much more stable, though not without its own changes and happenings. The biggest, of course, was the surprising status update from “in a relationship” to “engaged”.

I was a bit better about keeping this blog updated, especially in regards to my book life. I wanted to read a book for each week in 2015. I didn’t quite get to 52 books for the year – 34 total – but there are some novellas and short stories that I didn’t track on GoodReads, so the total is probably closer to 40 or 45 if we count those. I aspired to write reviews for all the books I’ve read, and maybe, eventually, I’ll get to those.

Of what I read this year, these are my favourites. –

I didn’t get to add a new stamp to my passport this year, but I traveled quite a bit in the spring – NYC in March for a friend’s birthday surprise, Miami in May (where Benjamin proposed), back to NYC at the end of May for Book Expo America. I spent more time on planes in those few months than I have in years – I don’t do a lot of plane travel, historically. Since the Spring, we’ve mostly been at home. I spent a weekend in Blue Ridge for a friend’s bachelor party where I got to hang out with two goats. We stayed another weekend in Dahlonega for my brother’s wedding. Earlier this month, we drove to Cincinnati for Christmastime with family.

 

After the stress of my thesis, going full-time, and all the rest of 2014’s turmoil, I started 2015 at the highest weight I’d ever been. I did not take good progress pictures, but trust me, I’ve progressed. Over the holidays, I’ve gained back some of my lost weight, but I’m still 7 pounds lighter now than at the beginning of the year. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’ve added muscle and I’m short. Bust is 2″ smaller, waist is 3″ smaller, abdomen/love handle area is at least 1.5″ smaller (but I didn’t start measuring that until later in the year), and my butt is 1.5″ bigger.

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Here’s 2014’s super fat Christmas tree and a little more fat Holly

And here’s this year’s less fat Christmas tree and less fat Holly

Our tree isn't quite as fat this year 😕 but neither am I 😌 🎄🎄🎄 (🍌 for scale)

A post shared by Holly Bryant-Simpson (@hollishter) on

Benjamin put us on a budget and, if we ignore December, I’ve done a good job of sticking to it. I’m still not organized, but I’m improving. I’ve been drinking more water, but not enough. I’m better at meal planning and prepping, but I have much to learn (if you have vegetarian/pescatarian friendly freezer meal recipes, holla).

Overall, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in 2015. It’s been a good year. 2016 is going to be even better.

 

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ARC August Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Format: ARC (Print)
Publisher: 
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 3, 2015
Length:
320 Pages
Where I Got It:
Book Expo America

Synopsis: Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.


Review: Sweet Lord Cleopatra this book is wonderful, wonderful. It has all of the things that are good about young adult romance and very few of the overused tropes.

Maddie was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) as a baby and has spent her whole life since in her home. People with SCID are basically allergic to anything and everything – you know, like Bubble Boy.

Maddie’s whole house is  bubble, basically – her mom and her nurse, the only two people she ever has face-to-face interaction with (her brother and father died when she was a baby) – go through a sanitizing/disinfecting chamber before entering the house, there’s a very fancy air filtration system, etc. She is in school online and talks with her teachers and tutors through Skype. She doesn’t have friends beyond those she knows through Tumblr.

A new family moves next door and that changes Everything, Everything. By miming through their windows, then writing with dry erase, then moving to email and IM, Maddie and the boy next door, Olly, become friends. Then consider being more than friends – which is extra complicated since Maddie can’t leave her house or touch any one.

I devoured this book in a few hours. I could not put it down.

This year has been a good year in reading for me and I keep finding myself declaring books The Best Book I’ve Read This Year. I feel like I’ve said it so much that no one is going to take me seriously anymore, if they ever did. So, I won’t say that – though I’m thinking it -but I will say that this book will for sure be on my Top 10 List of the Year. Probably my Top 5. Maybe my Top 1. I think you should read it.

When the audiobook comes out, I’ll listen to it – though there are some visual aspects of the story that would be lost. If they made a movie, I would cast Zoe Kravitz or Zendaya as Maddie –

   

(or Amandla Sternberg – I assume we have a few years before this happens)

and for Olly, maybe Colton Haynes? I don’t know who is young and foxy other than JHutch and he isn’t who I picture as Olly. Who are young hot actors? Anyway, I’d watch that movie.

 

My giant BEA haul left me with about 50 ARCs. I might get to 10 of them before their release dates. Maybe fewer because I might just re-read Everything, Everything 10 times instead. Nicola Yoon is going to be at this year’s Decatur Book Festival and I’m seriously considering ducking out of Dragon Con for a few hours to try to meet her and let her know how special this book is to me.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

top ten fav of 2015
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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Print:

Everything, Everything*, by Nicola Yoon

Haints Stay, by Colin Winnette

Infinite Home*, by Kathleen Alcott

A Curious Tale of the In-Between*, by Lauren DeStefano

Audio:

Magonia, by Maria Dahvana Headley, narrated by Therese Plummer and Michael Crouch

Searching for Grace Kelly, by Michael Callahan, narrated by Kristin Kalbli

Simon v. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli, narrated by Michael Crouch

Binary Star, written and read by Sarah Gerard

Nine Kinds of Naked*, by Tony Vigorito, narrated by Kristin Kalbli

Neverwhere (BBC Dramatisation), by Neil Gaiman, narrated by a full cast.

* Reviews coming soon!

What books have you loved so far this year?