A Look Back at 2014 + favorites

Whew! Let me start by saying I can’t believe 2014 is almost over! It seems like just yesterday we were starting 2014 with many plans and good intentions (AND a TBR list a mile long). It has been a crazy and tough year for me personally. All of that aside, this is a post about what’s happened on the blog this year, like book review, challenges, and memes. I have read some WONDERFUL books this year!

I started out this year with joining in the “Empty Shelf Challenge“, hoping to fill one of my shelves with books I read all year. My goal was 40 books. As of right now, I’m working on book number 50 and counting (print and some ebooks)!

This year has also seen some enjoyable author interviews here on the blog (Lynne Gentry, Rebecca DeMarinoDawn Crandall, Amber Stokes).

This spring, I was privileged to participate as a judge in the INSPY awards. Jody Hedlund’s A Noble Groom won in the historical romance category I and fellow bloggers were judging (It’s not on this list, but it was fabulous!) It was a fun experience! (Nominations are now open for the 2015 INSPYs, so go check that out here.)

I started participating in a few memes, like the Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday, my own Wednesday Wonderings, and continued a few Fun Find Fridays.

I’m listing 11 of my favorite reads from this year. You may have heard me gush about these at one time or another, but this is the year-end review…. so prepare yourself. I want to give a quick shout-out to all of the authors, publishers, and blogger review programs out there. THANK YOU! If it weren’t for you all, we wouldn’t take such pleasure in reading (and writing about it!).

Some of my favorites from 2014

A few are not pictured here – 2 were ebooks & 1 is on loan to a friend

 

* in no particular order *

1. The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

This one was just perfect. Beautiful setting, realistic characters, great writing style. I could go on, but I’m just going to say if you’re a historical fiction fan, get this one now!!! (I’m still waiting for the mini-series adaptation to become a reality)

2. The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall

My favorite so far of the Everstone Chronicles series, Meredyth and Lawry’s stories were so heartfelt.

3. The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

SO GOOD. Expertly intertwining historical and contemporary stories consecutively. And did I mention I’m becoming a huge WWII-era fan?

4. A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge

An awesome contemporary. About a chef. With actual RECIPES included. Just my style!

5. Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

This one was sweet, comical, and really made me laugh. AND it challenges your faith. If you ever visit Melissa’s fab blog, you’ll see that she is just as sweet and funny in real life.

6. It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren

Susan is fast becoming a favorite author. This one was great and kept me turning the pages quickly. The others (so far) in the Christiansen family series are fantastic, too!

7. Duchess by Susan May Warren

ANOTHER favorite from Susan! You know those golden-age-of-Hollywood epic stories with a bit of romance? Maybe like Gone With the Wind or Roman Holiday? This one totally reminds me of them – plus it actually follows the story of Roxy, an actress from that era. (I know, I haven’t reviewed this one on the blog yet, but I will. Soon.)

8. The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

Probably one of my top 3 favorites this year, if someone forced me to say it out loud. This one is a historical fiction game-changer. Inspiring, fantastic characters who jump of the page, and an enlightening history lesson all in one.

9. Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay

Another one I’ve yet to review. It’s fabulous, though, with raw characters and a unique storyline full on unexpected-ness. Just what I’ve come to expect from Katherine.

10. Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter

It’s by Denise Hunter. What more can I say? Seriously though, this one had bright characters, lessons of love and sacrifice, and a big family to tie it all together.

11. The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd

Mystery, romance, redemption, and a beautiful setting combine in this Jane Eyre-esque portrayal of the Regency er

 

Well, that’s my recap of 2014! What do you think of my favorites – agree, disagree? Have you read any of these books/authors before?

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Bookshelfie ~ Empty Shelf Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an updated pic of this year’s bookshelf (for the Empty Shelf Challenge). Here’s an updated “bookshelfie” after a couple months and a few INSPY reads have stacked up!

Have you read any of these titles? What did YOU think?
Bookshelfie Update for Empty Shelf

 

Counting down from the latest:

#28 The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

#27 A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge

#26 Stuck Together by Mary Connealy

#25 Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

#24 Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

#23 The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen (INSPYs Historical Romance shortlist title)

#22 A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund (INSPYs Historical Romance shortlist title)

#21 A Place in His Heart by Rebecca DeMarino

#20 Duchess by Susan Mary Warren (INSPYs Historical Romance shortlist title)

#19 Though My Heart is Torn by Joanne Bischof (INSPYs Historical Romance shortlist title)

#18 While Love Stirs by Lorna Seilstad

#17 Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz (INSPYs Historical Romance shortlist title)

#16 The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

#15 Lonestar Homecoming by Colleen Coble (audiobook)

#14 Divergent by Veronica Roth

#13 Healer of Carthage by Lynne Gentry (not pictured, on loan to a friend)

#12 A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

#11 A Stillness of Chimes by Meg Moseley

#10 A Heart’s Rebellion by Ruth Axtell

#9 Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter

#8 Moonlight Masquerade by Ruth Axtell (ebook)

#7 George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

#6 It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren

#5 Take A Chance On Me by Susan May Warren (ebook)

#4 The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd

#3 The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd (ebook)

#2 The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

#1 Songs of the Shenandoah by Michael K. Reynolds

 

 

Backwards & Forwards

A look back at 2013 and looking forward to 2014 (to the empty shelf challenge).

2013

Looking back at 2013 here at The Green Mockingbird, I’ve done a little bit of everything. Several crafting projects, including finishing a quilt; conducting a solar-dyed yarn project & making a hat from the same yarn; and adapting a scarf pattern to crochet a table runner. I’ve shared some photography news and a few photos from this year. In the cooking department, I’ve made my own birthday cake, shared a strawberry pina coloda granita recipe, and an easy iced chai tea recipe.

Most prominently, in 2013 I began featuring book reviews, book-related posts, and occasional “Fun Find Friday” posts covering several topics. Looking back at the books I’ve read in 2013, I have to share my favorites. They include (in no particular order) the entire “Winds of Change” series by Julie Lessman, “Fired Up” by Mary Connealy, “The Breath of Dawn” by Kristen Heitzmann, “Fifteen Minutes” by Karen Kingsbury, and “Dear Mr. Knightley” by Katherine Reay.

2014

Have you heard about the Empty Shelf Challenge for readers in 2014? It’s a challenge to start with an empty bookshelf and fill it as you read in 2014. Supposedly, I should be more motivated to read and fill it if it is a visibly empty shelf. I had to rearrange a little – ok, a lot – to empty a shelf to start fresh in 2014. I’ll be keeping track and sharing my progress on my Pinterest board. Find out more info and read the original post here. I read a total of 33 books in 2013, not counting what I’m currently reading. My goal for 2014 is at least 40 books.

If you participate, use the hashtag #EmptyShelf in social media.

As we look ahead to a fresh year, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year! May God bless you abundantly in the coming year.

-Courtney