2016 rewind | best of books

I can easily say that I read more in 2016 than I have any other year-- my goal was 52 books and my total was 63, but I think I'll probably get to 64 or 65 before the year officially ends. I'm thankful for how much I was able to read this year, how many new authors I discovered, and how many new bloggers I discovered through books.

If there's one thing I learned in regards to reading, it's that I really don't have a favorite genre because each one of my favorite books from this year is so completely different.  I also learned that sometimes the hype around a book is real, sometimes it's not, and sometimes pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit can really pay off.

These were my five favorites that I read this year, plus a couple of honorable mentions that really stand out and weren't quickly forgotten. I linked each book back to my original review.

A Prayer for Owen Meany | This is probably my favorite book of all time- at least in the top 3. I picked it up completely randomly after seeing it in a Bookbub email and I totally think it was meant to be.
Finding Audrey | I loved everything about this book. The story, the characters, and dialogue, the parts that were told through a script. Anxiety and depression is so, so real and I loved Kinsella's take on in this novel.
Pretty Girls | Hands down the best thriller/horror book I've ever read. This was a 5-star book I would never read again because it was so dark and at times graphic.
Daring Greatly | Brene Brown's research is so insightful and interesting to me, and I think just about anyone can find something inspiring out of this book.
Homegoing | Beautiful writing and storytelling in such a unique format.

honorable mentions: Swear on This Life, Eligible, The Mothers

What were some of the best books you read this year?

in case you missed it: what I read in December

Carly Reads Here | december

Happy Wednesday! I can't believe we're already just a few days away from Christmas. It looks like December is going to bring 3 weeks of book posts and what better way to end the year? Last week I shared the Christmas books I read, next week I'll be sharing my favorite books of 2016, and today's post contains the rest of the books I've read between now and the November book linkup.


The Perfect Hand Cream

I'm not a big fan of lotion, but as soon as the cold weather rolls in and the heat kicks on my hands get painfully dry. I also wash my hands a zillion times a day, so that doesn't help with the extreme dryness. For the past couple of years I've been on the hunt for the perfect hand cream.

Aside from the obvious importance of moisturizing quality-- the two most important factors are fragrance and whether or not it's truly non-greasy.

Fresh Seaberry Nourishing Hand Cream | $23 for 2.3oz
I wanted to hate this-- I wanted it to be really unimpressive because it's so pricey, but it's wonderful and definitely my favorite of the bunch. The scent is extremely pleasant and very light- it doesn't linger at all once it's applied. It makes your hands super soft without being the slightest bit greasy or heavy. It's the perfect lotion to use throughout the day because

L'Occitane Shea Hand Cream | $12 for 1oz
This is a gorgeous hand cream that is perfect if you want something scented. I have the rose petals fragrance and it smells amazing and always makes me happy.

Aveeno Skin Relief |  $3.79 for 3.5oz on Amazon
Aveeno is usually a safe bet for sensitive skin- it's fragrance free and the packaging says it's dermatologist recommended. It holds true to the scentless claims, and while it is moisturizing I find it to be really greasy, which is a bummer since you get the most product for a fraction of the price of the other hand creams.

True Blue Spa Paraffin Super Softening Hand Lotion | $12 for 2.5oz
This is another great option that isn't greasy and has a very light, slightly citrusy scent. I was curious to find out what paraffin was, and from the googling I did paraffin is a mineral oil. Mineral oil has a lot of mixed reviews on whether or not it's safe, so if that's something you're trying to avoid I would probably skip this since it's the second ingredient listed after water.

What are your favorite hand creams or moisturizers?

Festive Beauty Favorites

My makeup collection is continually shrinking, so there aren't as many products that I switch with the seasons, but there are a few colors and products that always jump out at me during the holidays in terms of nail and lip color. 

British Green Racer is the most gorgeous forrest green polish with a very slight shimmer that you can't really detect in most lights. I find it to be the perfect color-- without pulling too green, and it's a great alternative for a dark polish if you don't want to go with a black or super dark red/burgundy. My bottle is a few years old, but still goes on like a dream- super smooth & evenly opaque in just two coats. I wasn't able to find this exact polish anywhere online but stylenomics by Essie was the closest dupe I could find, and hopefully this will encourage you not to shy away from green polishes. 

Sarah by Zoya is one of my favorite polishes ever. I'm convinced there isn't a more festive nail polish out there between the cool tones of the red and the sparkle mixed in. Zoya is 5-free, which is awesome and you can now purchase it at Ulta, which makes it a lot easier to purchase. 

Burt's Bees lipsticks were my favorite this year. Russet Red is such a great deep winter color- a brownish red, brick color. I have two other shades from this line and I do find that this one applies a little bit unevenly if I have any dry patches on my lips. 

The Nars velvet matte lip pencil in cruella was the Sephora birthday gift last year and it's such a perfect true red. While I don't branch out into bold lips often, I love that this does a pretty good job staying put once you apply it to help avoid the lipstick all over your face look. On the subject of bright reds, my Bite duo is a couple years old now but I love the quality of these lipsticks and the colors are perfect for this time of the year. Poppy is another perfect bold red with a satin finish, while Scarlett is a deep red with warm undertones. Tannin and liquorice appear to be the closest dupes to the duo since it was limited edition.

What are your favorite products for the holiday season? 

Books to Bring Christmas Cheer

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is curling up with a mug of hot chocolate piled high with whipped cream and watching cheesy Christmas movies-- Snow Bride is my favorite! Christmas books aren't something that come to mind as quickly, so I made it a mission to try and come across some equally cheesy heartwarming Christmas stories. I had big plans for this post a few months back, but I definitely hit a wall with reading these past few weeks combined with a few I just didn't like enough to finish. I'm linking up for Show Us Your Books.

All I want for Christmas | A woman is expecting to inherit her grandmother's farm only to find out that half of it has been willed to a boy she grew up with when she was little but hasn't seen in years. This was every kind of cheesy and predictable, but so enjoyable. I read another Jenny Hale Christmas story last year and wasn't that crazy about it, but I found this to be the perfect mix of friendship and romance with the perfect holiday backdrop. I was sent this book from Netgalley for review, opinions remain my own. 

Twelve Days of Christmas | A woman tries to kill her scrooge-like neighbor with kindness as part of a 12 day challenge she documents on her blog. I've never read anything by Debbie Macomber, but after requesting this from Netgalley I realized she's quite well known for her Christmas novels, and I've seen a few pop up as made for TV movies on the Hallmark channel. The blog element was fun in this one, but I thought the main character was really annoying, which took away from some of the enjoyment. I was sent this book from Netgalley for review, opinions remain my own. 

Winter Stroll | Funny story with this one...I thought this was the first book in the three part series, but was talking with Heather on instagram and she mentioned she was reading the first book (Winter Street) and I was like wait, what?? Winter Stroll is definitely the second book, which explains why I was so overwhelmed/confused when I started reading this- I thought it was just because I was doing cardio at the gym and probably not paying attention as much as I should have been.

Taking all of that into consideration, and removing my confusion, I still enjoyed this for a holiday themed book, though I think there was a little too much going on, and one too many characters. It definitely makes you feel like Nantucket is one of those perfect little Christmas towns with fun events. I would highly recommend starting with the first book though.

The Mistletoe series by Richard Paul Evans is on my radar for next year, along with My True Love Gave to Me (read Lindsay's review). Do you have any favorite holiday books?

Friday Mashup | christmas cheer, coffee, and TV favorites.

This week seemed to go by fast and slow all at once. Last night we had fun at the National Gallery of Art for the Evenings at the Edge. It was the first time my husband had been back in the East Building since it had opened so I was excited to show him all of my favorites. What was even more exciting was running into Deborah after Snapchat led us to realize we were both at the same place! It was so awesome to finally meet her in person!

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