Sunday, December 29, 2013

Favorites of 2013

With 2014 only days away, this is a perfect opportunity to look back on some of my favorite books, movies and TV shows of the past year. If I were a world traveler, I’d share my favorite locales to visit; a foodie, my dining hot spots; but since I’m a bookworm, slightly reformed couch potato, and movie nut, this is the list which you guys are stuck with.

I’ll caveat the list by saying that there are a number of late movie releases which I hope to see soon, but haven’t yet so the list might need some altering; lastly, the list covers only those films or books released or published in 2013 and while I'm highlighting my favorites I’m not rating them in numerical order, because it really is like comparing apples to oranges; each one is different and special in its own right.

BOOKS (*Updated post-publishing)
Doctor Sleep. Snuck this one in under the wire. This Stephen King follow-up to The Shining is long, but oh so worth it. A page-turning thriller with elements of horror for some spine-tingling fun. Soo good!

Murder as a Fine Art. A compelling historical mystery written by David Morrell, the acclaimed author of First Blood and Brotherhood of the Rose; the novel is a murder mystery built around real author, Thomas De Quincey, who becomes a suspect in a series of copycat murders to those he covered 43 years earlier in an essay entitled “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.”

Orphan Train. Historical fiction with a bittersweet and poignant tale surrounding the tragic reality of orphan trains during the late 1920s.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane. My first book from author Neil Gaiman; this fantasy novel ensnared me in its captivating web and made me a believer in all things magic.

The Silver Star. Funny, sweet and charming this captivating story about two intrepid young sisters easily won my heart.

All is Lost. Loved this movie! It’s got one actor (Robert Redford) and all of five minutes of dialogue, but it keeps you riveted to the screen and on the edge of your seat for all two hours. A must see.

Frozen. Love cartoons or animated films, as they call them nowadays, and this film became a new Disney favorite of mine.

Gravity. A movie-going experience which I’m not likely to forget anytime soon. Not a lot of meat on the bone as they say; no character development or a lot of plot, but it was nonetheless nail-biting and the sheer scope of the cinematography was breathtaking.

About Time. A wistful and sigh-inducing movie that left me dreaming of true love and happily ever after; what more could you ask for? (other than maybe an actual Prince and happily ever after).

Philomena. This movie was a life-lesson on forgiveness captured on film; a poignant story and definite tear-jerker which was all the more evocative because I knew it was based on a true story.

The Blacklist. What can I say? You guys know I am officially obsessed with this show. The writing is out of this world, the action fast paced and thrilling, and the acting—better said – James Spader – Wow; he is reason numero uno why I watch this show.

Bob's Burgers. I love the Belcher family, every one: Bob, Linda, Tina, Gene and last, but not least, Louise. One of the funniest and possibly most underrated shows on TV; I love their dry humor, silliness, the motley cast of screwball characters, and the great storytelling featured in each episode.

Derek. This was a happenstance discovery; a British show featured on Netflix that just touched my heart. It was funny but more than that it was poignant and sweet, and at times bittersweet. I needed a Kleenex during more than one episode, but I loved it nonetheless. I read online there might be a season 2…here’s hoping.

Once Upon A Time. I was a little lax in my viewing, doing most of it OnDemand, but the show is still as engrossing and fresh as ever. Gold is still the man, but I’m pleased with the new direction they’re taking Regina; love the sassy softer side of the Evil Queen.

I would be remiss in not saying that while the above list comprises my favorite entertainment from 2013 which offered me countless hours of escapism and enjoyment, the truly best and most memorable parts of 2013 were all those moments shared with family and friends. I couldn't write a post long enough to capture all of the special moments (made so by there mere fact that I was sharing it with those I love) which I enjoyed throughout the year. Whether sitting on the couch with my brother watching a movie or frolicking in the pool with my knuckleheads during a heat wave; or enjoying a great home-cooked meal by my sister-in-law or a scrumptious Uruguayan dish made by my cousin Susana, served with a side helping of side-splitting laughs and a bittersweet reminder of my mom’s great cooking; each is etched in my heart. The list could go on and on, but like I said, this post would be ridiculously long (though I guess it already is).

Anyway, God willing, you and I will have countless happy moments to look back on at the end of 2014 too, and hopefully I’ll have a new list of great books, movies, and TV to share with you also.