I told myself I wouldn’t make a “year in review” type of post since everyone does this, but then I was like, “Fuck it. I like reading those posts, so why not write one myself?”
This isn’t going to be all about my favorite Divulge and Indulge posts, though. I’ll definitely include those, but I also just wanted to cover my life in 2014 in general. I decided I really wanted to do this after reading some of my “year in review” posts from my LiveJournal days. It’s kind of fun to go back and see how much I (and my tastes) have changed over the years. To be perfectly honest, this post is probably going to be more for me than for any readers I may have, but that’s okay. Maybe someone will enjoy it anyway.
5 Favorite Songs:
The criteria for my favorite songs is simple: it must have been released at some point during 2014. I hate to admit this, but it was really hard to come up with even 5 awesome songs from this year. As you may have noticed from my monthly playlists, I’m not exactly a huge fan of popular music … And unfortunately, a lot of my favorite bands and artists didn’t release new stuff this year.
1. “Make You Better” – The Decemberists
This is by far my favorite song released this year. I’ve literally been listening to this on repeat for the last several weeks. It’s a beautiful song that moves me to tears almost every time I hear it, and I can’t wait until the album is released next month! (Side note: I really wanted to include this on my December playlist, but it’s not available on Grooveshark for some reason.)
2. “Breaker 1” – Interpol
I was pretty excited for the new Interpol album this year (though they didn’t come back to Omaha on this tour, so that made me sad). Although nothing they put out ever seems to top Antics for me, El Pintor has some really great tracks. After listening to this album every day for several weeks, I determined that “Breaker 1” was my personal favorite. It’s classic Interpol: dark, haunting, and addictive.
3. “Evil Voices” – The Faint
This was by far my favorite song on Doom Abuse, and I may or may not have played it over and over in my car at a ridiculously high volume while I danced like an idiot after its release. (Side note: Eric hates The Faint, which is just crazy to me. Not only are they awesome, they’re also local … How can any true Omahan hate them? They’re also playing at The Waiting Room for two nights this month, and I’m totally bummed that my friends that also love them no longer live here to go with me. Eric obviously won’t be going, and I didn’t want to go alone. Whomp whomp.)
4. “Promise” – Tori Amos
I’m a huge Tori Amos fan, but I’ve admittedly been disappointed with a lot of her newer work. There are usually a few really good songs on the newer albums (which, for me, means anything released after Scarlet’s Walk), but I haven’t been blown away by them in the same way I was with Scarlet’s Walk and everything preceding that. Unfortunately, her latest album also fell a little flat for me. The songs aren’t bad and some of the lyrics are really great … But they’re just lacking a passion I’ve come to expect from her. Regardless, “Promise” really stood out to me because it’s just such a sweet song. It’s definitely not her best work, but I really liked it for two reasons: it’s a great song about a love between mother and daughter and she performs it as a duet with her own teenage daughter, Natashya.
5. “Ultraviolence” – Lana Del Rey
I think there are a lot of really good songs on Ultraviolence, but this song really stands out to me as the best. (Though “West Coast” takes a close second.) I think I really appreciate the cinematic quality … I can easily picture scenes playing out when I listen to it, and I’m a huge fan of music that tells a story. (Side note: It’s kind of shocking that I like Lana Del Rey as much as I do. Her music isn’t what I’d typically listen to, but I find myself liking her more and more. While I don’t love all of her songs, the ones I do like are so damn catchy that I find myself singing them constantly. I also really love her voice.)
5 Favorite Books:
I’m making this section a little easier on myself because I honestly don’t even know if I’ve read 5 books that were published in 2014. In order for a book to be included on this list, it had to be read during 2014 (but could have been published at any time). I really slacked on my reading this year, so coming up with 5 favorite books was probably harder than it should have been.
1. The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald
It took me a long time to read this book because it’s 811 pages long, but it was well worth the time. I read another book by the same author a couple of years ago (Fall on Your Knees), and I fell in love with it. The Way the Crow Flies was similar in that it focused on a family and their experiences over the course of several years, but the story itself was completely different. Her novels focus on some of the darker aspects of human nature and she definitely doesn’t shy away from making her readers uncomfortable, so if that’s not your thing, this probably isn’t the book for you. If, however, you’re okay with disturbing subject matter and are looking for an interesting, beautifully written novel, I highly recommend The Way the Crow Flies. This was by far the best book I read all year.
2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I feel like everyone in the world had already read this book before I got around to it. This is actually pretty surprising since I’d already read (and loved!) Gillian Flynn’s first two novels a couple of years ago. I have also seen the movie, but I definitely preferred the book. Don’t get me wrong … The movie isn’t bad or anything. I just felt like there were some important details that were left out (which is typically the case since most adapted movies would be 5 or 6 hours long if everything from the book was included). And, if I’m being totally honest here, I’m not a huge fan of Ben Affleck. He was actually a good choice for the role of Nick Dunne, but I would never go see a movie just because he was in it. But anyway … I’m getting way off track. I really liked Gone Girl, and I loved the way the author chose to reveal information throughout the novel. I thought it was really effective, and it definitely kept me interested.
3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This is another book that everyone has probably already read, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing. I usually don’t read young adult fiction, but this book was just so good. (I actually haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can’t comment on that.) Although I knew what would most likely happen by the end, I still cried throughout the last part of the novel. The book is funny and sweet and heartbreaking all at once, and I’m really glad I didn’t let the young adult fiction label turn me off from it.
4. The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis
The Boy in the Suitcase is a crime thriller with an interesting premise. Although I thought the character development could use a little work, it definitely kept me interested. I liked the fact that the authors didn’t reveal why the boy was kidnapped in the beginning, nor did I correctly guess why it had happened. I always appreciate an element of surprise in novels (particularly when it comes to thrillers!), so I thought the authors did a great job revealing important information little by little. It wouldn’t be the first book I’d recommend, but if you’re a fan of crime thrillers, I’d say it’s worth a read.
5. Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk (reread)
I wasn’t sure if I should include this since it was a reread, but I did read it this year … So we’ll go with it. I’ll admit that I’m kind of a fangirl when it comes to Chuck Palahniuk (okay, let’s be real, I’m more than “kind of” a fangirl), so my opinions of his work are probably horribly biased. That being said, Lullaby is, for the most part, a fantastic novel. Yes, some parts are a little repetitive, but it’s an overall enjoyable read. I love that a lot of his work contains these incredibly beautiful lines that stick in your mind long after the last page is turned. This isn’t my favorite Palahniuk novel (that award goes to Invisible Monsters), but it’s definitely worth reading at least once.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering how much of a fangirl I am, here is a picture of me with Chuck Palahniuk back in 2007 during his Rant book tour:
I drove 3 hours to attend that signing. I also look like a deer in the headlights in this picture. I mean, I was fucking standing next to Chuck Palahniuk! I’m also sure I dazzled him with my great conversation skills since I think the only words I could come up with were, “Hi, it’s nice to meet you!”
Anyway … Back to 2014. We’ll leave 2007 in the past.
5 Favorite Movies:
I can almost guarantee I didn’t see 5 movies that were released in 2014. Since that’s the case, I’ll make my criteria for movies the same as my criteria for books: I just had to see it this year … It could have been released at any time (though a couple of these were actually released this year!).
From the moment I first heard about this movie, I wanted to see it. If ever there was a movie that seemed specifically tailored to my personal tastes, this would be it. I was actually nervous about watching it because I was so afraid I’d be let down. Thankfully I wasn’t! Stoker was just as dark, beautiful, and haunting as I’d hoped it would be, and although it’s definitely not as over-the-top fucked up as some of Chan-wook Park’s other films (like Oldboy), it has its moments. This was by far the best movie I watched this year.
2. I Origins
I’ve mentioned before how much I love Michael Pitt, so it’s probably not surprising that one of his more recent films made it onto this list. The imagery in this film is absolutely stunning, and I loved all of the questions it raised about reincarnation. While I don’t personally believe in reincarnation, the way in which the movie presented the idea was fascinating. The movie wasn’t perfect by any means, but I thought it was definitely unique and beautiful and featured some great performances.
3. The Seasoning House
I’ve already written about this movie, so I won’t bore you by writing too much about it here. I do want to say, though, that I really didn’t have any expectations when I started watching The Seasoning House so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a really tense and interesting thriller. I was also really impressed with Rosie Day’s performance (and yes, I know I mentioned that before, but she was really fucking awesome), especially since you don’t always see such incredible performances in low budget independent thrillers.
This film is based on a book of the same name by Daniel Clay. I read the novel a couple of years ago and it quickly earned a spot in my favorite books of all time. Although I found the novel to be far superior, the movie was still great (despite the fact that a lot of details were changed or completely omitted). This definitely isn’t a “feel good” kind of movie (in fact, I’d say it’s exactly the opposite), but it’s well worth watching. I’d highly recommend both the book and the movie, though I’d also recommend grabbing a big box of tissues … If you’re anything like me, you’re going to need them.
5. Gone Girl
I know I already mentioned the book, but I think the movie does deserve a place on this list. Yes, it didn’t live up to the book for me, but it was still a damn good movie. I saw this in the theater with Eric and my brother-in-law, Jake, and it was totally worth the ridiculous price of a movie ticket. I love that this is very much a “Kristen movie” (as the people in my life tend to call really dark and/or fucked up movies), but it’s also a movie that really appealed to the masses. If you haven’t seen this yet, you probably should.
5 Favorite Divulge and Indulge Posts:
I’ve loved working on my blog throughout this year. Although I don’t anticipate ever becoming a “big blogger,” I do hope to gain some new followers in the new year. The posts I’m including in this list are the ones that I’d want to direct any new readers to in the hopes that they’d want to stick around to see what else I have to say.
1. Crawling Back To You (originally posted 05.26.2014)
This was the first post I was really hesitant to publish (and not just because my husband reads this blog). It was hard for me to put all of that out there, but I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and share something really personal.
2. Thoughts On #yesallwomen (originally posted 06.01.2014)
I typically write about more personal things and less about current events, but I was really inspired by the #yesallwomen phenomenon (despite my dislike of Twitter). I knew I wanted to write something on the topic and share a few of my own experiences, and this post was the result.
3. The Divulge and Indulge Guide to the Best Scary Movies (originally posted 10.27.2014)
This was one of my favorite posts to write because I really love horror/thriller movies, and, of course, I love sharing cool shit with other people. I had a lot of fun trying to compile a list of movies that were worthy of being called the “best.”
4. I Love You More Than I Have Ever Found A Way To Say To You (originally posted 11.09.2014)
This is my mushy one year wedding anniversary post that shares the story of how Eric and I first met way back in 2007. (Yes, 2007 was a big year for me. I met both Chuck Palahniuk and my future husband!) I always have fun sharing our love story with others because it’s not the typical “we met in school” or even “we met on a dating site” kind of story.
5. How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work: 7 Tips from Someone Who Has Been There (More Than Once!) (originally posted 11.20.2014)
If there’s one thing I feel qualified to give advice on, it’s long distance relationships. (I was “The Queen of Long Distance” for a while, after all. I gave myself that title, but still … It wasn’t inaccurate.) Although the advice given in this post was mostly common sense, it felt good to share the things that really worked for me in the past. I know this post has gotten quite a bit of traffic, so hopefully at least one person found it useful or interesting!
General Favorites in 2014:
1. Favorite Trip: Obviously this award goes to my late honeymoon/one year anniversary trip to New York, The Netherlands, Belgium, and France. If you’re new to this blog and want to check out some pictures and information, posts about our trip can be found here, here, here, and here.
2. Favorite New To Me Restaurant (in Omaha): This is a tough one because we tried several really great places this year, but I think this award should probably go to Dario’s Brasserie. Eric took me there for my 30th birthday dinner, and everything was absolutely delicious. I also appreciated the fact that I was able to try something completely new (rabbit). It was definitely one of the best meals I ate this year.
3. Favorite New To Me Restaurant (in any other city): We ate at so many great places while we were on vacation, but one meal really stood out as being the best. That meal was the one we had at A La Petite Chaise in Paris.
4. Favorite Concert: I didn’t go to as many concerts this year as I have in the past, which was kind of disappointing. I was trying to stick mostly to the Omaha area for shows since we were already spending a lot of money and using a lot of vacation time to go to New York and Europe. Unfortunately, some of the bands and artists I wanted to see didn’t come to our area … And, like I said, this year I really couldn’t justify using the extra money and vacation time to travel for a concert. I was still able to go to a few shows, though, and I really enjoyed all of them. This year I saw Neutral Milk Hotel (twice!), Arctic Monkeys, and Death Cab for Cutie (my second time seeing them). It’s hard to choose a favorite, but, since I’m making myself choose, I think the first Neutral Milk Hotel show in Kansas City was the best. The atmosphere was great, the acoustics were fantastic, and I was just so fucking ecstatic to actually have the opportunity to see them perform live. I never thought that would happen. (I was lucky enough to see them again about a month later in Omaha, but the venue/acoustics weren’t quite as good and I think some of my excitement faded with the headache/stomachache combo I was dealing with that day.)
And because I think this post needs another picture:
5. Favorite Purchase: For this category, I’m not including anything related to meals out, concerts/other shows, or travel. (If I did, I probably couldn’t choose just one thing!) The best purchase made this year (excluding items in the aforementioned categories) was definitely my Beats headphones. Eric and I both got some before our trip (and agreed that they would just be our Christmas gifts to one another since we probably would have bought them for each other for Christmas anyway if we hadn’t needed/wanted them a month earlier), and they were worth every penny. I got a pair of the urBeats earbuds because I’m not a huge fan of the bulkier headphones. The sound is great, and the best part is that I can’t hear anything else when I have them in. The music doesn’t even have to be turned up loud to drown out the noise around me! (This really came in handy during a flight that included no less than 5 babies. I heard no crying until I removed my earbuds. None. It was glorious!) I’m not going to say that you should run out and buy these now (this isn’t a sponsored post, after all!), but I will say that I love my Beats and I’m really glad I got them before our trip.
I know this post is long, so if you made it to this point, thanks for reading! Next Tuesday I’ll be sharing my 5 favorite Divulge and Indulge Tasty Tuesday posts, so if you like these “year in review” posts be sure to check that out! I’ll also be posting my New Year’s resolutions in an upcoming post. Hopefully I can come up with some great goals for myself for 2015!