Friday, January 11, 2019

A Year Of Reading 2018

I hope there are readers out there who love books as much as I do. I don't typically talk books on the blog but it's one of my favorite topics. And I enjoy looking back on my reading life over the years.  I love to read and have for my whole life. I think it would be safe to say words are my love language. I don't have many book people in my life so if you are, please let me know in the comments. Also, please feel free to leave any and all book recommendations you have to offer!


In 2018, I read 63 books. My goal was to read 40 books in 2018 which was significantly more than my 2017 goal of 30 books. My final total was a result of changing responsibilities and more time for reading. Of those 63 books, zero were re-reads. All new books this year. I read several new authors this year but Tara Jenkins Reid was my favorite and binge read all her books in 2018. So glad I did. Have you read TJR?

My 2018 book list was equal parts fiction and nonfiction this year with some mix of graphic novels. I was interested in reading recent releases this year, so lots of new reads are listed. I continued to read my mostly from one of my favorite genres, contemporary fiction. I started reading some self improvement/motivation books this year which I enjoyed and will continue in the new year.

1. Best Book You Read In 2018?

I don't feel like I read anything that knocked me off my feet in 2018. My favorite was probably Big Little Lies from Liane Moriarty. 

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

This was easy! And probably an unpopular opinion, The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, was a book I could not wait to read in 2018. In the end, I just did not like it. It was too unbelievable for me and the build up of suspense was so anti-climatic. A big nope from me.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? 

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo. My favorite storyline is answering the 'what could have been' question. The Light We Lost was a tough read and I really wasn't sure I would like this one. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised and definitely a top ten from 2018.

 4. Best series you started in 2018? 

The only series I read in 2018 was the children's graphic novel series, Amulet. I was instantly won over. If you have an emerging reader (2nd grade or older), give them these books. The novels have such important themes interwoven in fantasy writing. I loved it. I wish I would have known about these when my kids were younger.

5. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

Tara Jenkins Reid by far. I read Maybe In Another Life in February and devoured everything else Reid wrote by the end of the year. I can't wait for her next release. I am such a fan. I can't believe I waited this long to read one of her novels.

6. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I don't read classic novels very often, so The Handmaid's Tale would be my choice for this question. It was really good. I read a couple dystopian books this year and this was the best. 

 7. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

My fastest read was One True Loves by Tara Jenkins Reid. So entertaining. 

 8. Book You Read In 2018 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I am most likely to read Believing Bigger by Marshawn Evans Daniels in 2019. I did a double read of Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis in 2018. I'm definitely in a place of exploring motivation and vision building/goal setting. I imagine 2019 will be more of that! 

9. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

All the Tara Jenkins Reid books were beautiful covers.

10. Most creatively written book read in 2018?

11/22/63 by Stephen King was the most creative I read. This was my first Stephen King and I was drinking the Kool-Aid for this popular author. My goal is to read another Stephen King this year.

11. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?

If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey was probably the book that got me on the path to goal setting and becoming more authentic. This started a year of self assessment and goal setting. 

12. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2019 to finally read? 

Anything from Tara Jenkins Reid. She is that good, people!

13.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

Shortest Book: Sea Prayer, 48 pages
Longest Book: 11/22/63, 849 pages

14. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Every young adult book I read is because my teenagers recommend them to me. One of Us Is Lying was a book my daughter was telling me to read for a long time. A List of Cages was the second book she recommended. I don't read too many YA books but I try to read something my kids are enjoying.

15. Best 2018 debut you read?

The only debut I read this year was The Woman In The Window by A.J Finn and I wasn't a fan. I hope 2019 will bring better debut novels.

16. Books That Made You Cry in 2018?

What the heck, I don't think I cried the year! I rarely cry when reading so it's not a big surprise but last year I cried over two books: Everything I Never Told You and The Mothers. Wow! 

17. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

My hidden gems were the Amulet graphic novels. I was so surprised by  what powerful messages were written in the pages. I would recommend this to all young readers. It is so positive and powerful (in my opinion).


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

All The Light We Cannot See is on the top of my list. I just keep pushing it down the list every year. 2019 is the year!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019?

I'm ready for another Tara Jenkins Reid book in March. Daisy and the Six is coming out and I'm ready for it! If Ruta Septys and Celeste Ng want to publish another novel I'm all for that too :)

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading Life In 2019?

I want to read all the books on my shelf.

Now it's time for you to answer some bookish questions. What was your favorite book of 2018? What book are you committed to reading in 2019?

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Greenville South Carolina 2019

Welcome to the South's best kept secret, Greenville, South Carolina. This past weekend we took a quick getaway to this up and coming city and it was the best. I can see what all the fuss is about.

Greenville South Carolina is all about outdoors, small business, and Clemson. I'm not fully confident about the Clemson thing but we were there the weekend before their national championship football game, so there was a lot of purple/orange love being shown off! I was digging it.

I think the best feature of Greenville is the Reedy River. There is a waterfall running right through downtown. Seventeen miles of paved trails along the river for walking/running/biking. And walking bridges all along the way. We love the outdoors and Greenville was just what we needed!

I was all about the small coffee shops around town. The first place we visited was The Village Grind where I ordered a Rose Cardamon Latte. This is not my usual order but I wanted the local's favorite. It was interesting, floral flavors, but still very satisfying!

We enjoyed walking the main street through downtown and browsing the small shops. My favorite was J. Hudson Booksellers shop. I love all things reading! 

The bookshop was filled with lots of good books, bookish gifts, and decor. 
All of my favorite things! 

At night, the town was all lit up and festive.

We had the best time. I can't say enough good things about Greenville. It was just what we needed to refresh and enjoy time together before Miss Ky goes back to school this weekend!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Favorite SemperFi Family Moments of 2018

Are you a fan of the Best Nine collage? One of my favorite year end activities on social media is seeing everybody's favorite pictures of the year. The best nine are the pictures you received the most likes on Instagram and there is a website like, THIS, that will calculate those rankings for you.

Looking back on 2018, I see A LOT of Kyli :) She is a favorite all the years :) 2018 was a big year for her with prom, graduation, leaving the role of military kid, and you can see it all in this collage. It was also the year of the Marine's retirement ceremony. 20 years in the military. I think I started this blog at year 13 in military family life. So surreal. Technically, we are starting 2019 as an active duty family but in a few short weeks we will be moving on to the blue IDs. 

We are still here in North Carolina. We will be finalizing moving plans in the next 2-3 months. Even though I would love to be in our forever home, I do appreciate this down time during retirement transition. Nobody likes to talk about the transition but it's a big one. I like that we are taking it slow and going through the whole process. I didn't realize how important that was but I can see it now. 

Anyways, back to the Best Nine, the favorite pictures were all about retirement and launching Kyli out into the real world. Which she is doing fantastic in the real world :) She is a little cold in Iowa this winter. Lucky child, she has only ever known warm weather living in California and North Carolina and Japan. Weather aside, she is rocking independent life! 

I love all the pictures but I think my favorite picture of the year was our family pic. Our very last military picture with the Osprey on the base. And of course, those kids all grown up. 

Did you get your Best Nine? Did you have a favorite that didn't make the collage? 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Hello 2019!

2019 is here. Are you ready? I'm ready!

This year I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone, to be bold, and risk hypothermia. We joined the locals for a very brisk and shocking dip in the Atlantic Ocean on the first day of the new year. I admit it took me two tries to get it done. I walked out after letting the water crash against my knees but luckily had friends (and a husband) who wouldn't let me miss the opportunity.

Yes, it took my breath away and pricked my legs like a hundred stabbing needles. Ultimately, it felt good to push myself out of my comfort zone.  I feel like I set the tone for my new year's goal of being more courageous, stepping outside the comfort zone, and accepting others for doing the same.

This year is the beginning of a "new" life outside of the military. It's exciting to have all the possibilities laid before us. I'm ready to start that new chapter with positivity and an open mind.

Cheers to you all, may you find what brings you joy in the new year!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Shackleford Banks Sunset Cruise

I felt like the weeks leading up to Kyli's send off was filled with all these "last" moments. Truth is, we took a handful of last hurrah trips to enjoy having the kids all together as kids (not independent people/adults). I was really feeling like life was about to change. I still think that but I'm not quite sure we needed all the "last moment" trips :) I might roll my eyes at my sentimentality sometimes.

This boat trip to Shackleford Banks was our very last trip together before we brought Kyli to college. We probably should have stayed home, packed the car, and went to bed early. Instead, we hopped on a catamaran for a sunset float out to a remote island to try to find wild horses. 
It's sort of our signature style of doing things.

It was a fantastic time walking horse trails over sand dunes, collecting shells on the beach, and searching for the elusive wild horses on the deserted island. The down fall was stepping on cactus with bare feet. By the way, if you ever go out to Shackleford Banks in North Carolina, don't leave your shoes on the boat! It's a terribly walk without shoes ;) 

 We did eventually find wild horses. Which was great luck given the 9 mile stretch of land they have to roam! We were feeling pretty lucky.
It was a good time and we floated back to the mainland glad we made the trip. 
We can't help but think of the next stay go early in the wear bring a netted bag to collect shells. Our time is limited in North Carolina though. So, maybe, that is just good advice for other people :)