The Best Books in 2014 + Five Books I’ll Be Reading in 2015

Although we’re a solid three weeks into January, I am still wrapping up all of my lists for last year. I have a flurry of “Best of” posts waiting to be published, with my top ten list of movies post coming out sometime near the end of this month. I’m still holding out to see Selma and Foxcatcher, although I’m unsure if I’ll be able to make both before I need to publish my list. All of that said, let’s get back to the point of this post.

Here’s my ranking of the best five books I read in 2014:

5. Son (2012)
by Lois Lowry

I really enjoyed Lowry’s YA quartet of stories that all started with The Giver, a book that has inspired countless popular dystopian stories today. While I think all four books are well-written, I enjoyed Son the most out of the three sequels because it concluded the stories and tied together all of the primary characters we got to meet in The Giver (1993), Gathering Blue (2000), and Messenger (2004). Lowry intertwines the overall themes of sacrifice and love, with good overcoming evil in the end. I’m thankful that I didn’t discover the series until last year, because I’m not sure how much I would have wanted to wait 19 years for a conclusion.

4. The Giver (1993)
by Lois Lowry

No doubt The Giver is the strongest, and perhaps most thrilling book in Lois Lowry’s quartet of stories that start with a boy named Jonas. Bestowed upon him at the transitional age of twelve, the title and job of being the Receiver of Memories casts a burden on the shoulders of a boy who starts to question the world in which he lives. An unsuccessful and inferior film based on the book was released in 2014, starring Jeff Bridges and a misplaced Meryl Streep. I’d recommend The Giver because its simple plot keeps you thinking after you’ve read the book. After reading multiple popular dystopian YA books over the past few years, I realized that The Giver stands apart from the mass not only for being published in the early ’90s, but also for its unique position in having inspired so many other stories.

3. Ready Player One (2011)
by Ernest Cline

Given the premise, I originally thought Ernest Cline’s first book would appeal more to gamers than the average person. And I imagine that in some sense, it does. But it’s a fascinating story that takes place in a virtual world, yet asks a deeper question that proves relevant for any person today. If you appreciate the pop culture of the 1980s, then I suggest you read Ready Player One immediately. If the past gets you nostalgic, if you have a soft spot in your heart for the Back to the Future films, or if you have a deep love for RPG games, then Ready Player One is the book for you. If you like adventure stories, underdog tales, superheroes, and squeal when the smart guy gets the girl, then you should probably get your hands on a copy of Ready Player One. If none of those reasons apply to you, and you enjoy a good book, then download Ready Player One on your device and start reading it. Need I give you more reasons?

2. Gone Girl (2012)
by Gillian Flynn

“Thrilling” and “dark”: those are the best two words to describe Gillian Flynn’s novel. Most people are familiar with both the title and the story by now, after the novel was adapted into a critically-acclaimed film last year. Having read the book and then seen the movie, I would no doubt admit what most people would: the book was better. The film was good, yes, but there’s something much creepier when you are alone in discovering the mystery behind Amy Elliott Dunne’s death. While I would have preferred less language, and could easily chalk up Gone Girl to a whodunnit mystery thriller starring Mr. and Mrs. Sociopath, what makes Gone Girl so engaging is the order in which Flynn makes her reveals. Not only are we terrified to find out what happens next as we see what happens through Nick’s eyes, but we also have our belief suspended on Ms. Flynn’s impeccably-written order of events. Thanks to her brilliant timing, as readers we get to experience the rush of solving a mystery, only to nervously proceed to find out what’s happening next. Suffice it to say the movie experience did not compare.

1. Cuckoo’s Calling
by Robert Gailbrath

It is for books like Cuckoo’s Calling that we have a list of inspiring characters and stories to thank, and in this case, I would start with Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Multiple adaptations and inspiring and visionary TV shows, films, and characters have been crafted from Conan Doyle’s best known crime solver and detective. Cormoran Strike, the protagonist of Cuckoo’s Calling, is not much like Detective Holmes, but the similarities in both what they do is apparent in reading the first of J.K. Rowling’s crime fiction novel series. As Rowling peels back the layers of the man who is Cormoran Strike, I found myself sympathizing with his personal circumstances and curious about the case surrounding Lula’s death. Rowling has a way of drawing in readers and keeping them compelled the entire time. I haven’t read The Silkworm, the first of multiple sequels in the works, but I’m planning to in 2015. Truly, the credit has to go to the creative mind of the author, because it is with explicit detail that Cuckoo’s Calling is fashioned, and it unfolds much like a TV mini-series would, where you can’t help but watch the entire series in one sitting. Whether or not one is a fan of the Harry Potter series, which made Ms. Rowling a household name not only in her home country, but also across the globe, one who enjoys an intense and thrilling crime mystery would have a hard time putting down Cuckoo’s Calling. Of course, I speak from my own experience. I found Cuckoo’s Calling to be the best book I read in 2014. It stayed with me long after I finished reading it.


A week and a half ago, I wrote a few New Year’s Resolutions posts for 2015, one of which is to read more books. I read only ten books in 2014, so I mentioned how I’d like to improve on that number by reading twenty-five this year. I picked twenty of them, and then I asked the rest of you for suggestions for my last five. Per your recommendations, these are the five I chose:

5. And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie

4. The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

3. High Fidelity
by Nick Hornby

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson

1. The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

To view my entire reading list for the year (twenty-five books total), or to see an update on where I am in my reading, check out my New Year’s Reading post here.

Stay tuned for the “best of” in music, TV, and movies this week and next. Thanks again to everyone who offered recommendations for my reading list this year! 🙂

What were the best (and worst) books you read in 2014? What are you planning to read this year?

New Year’s Resolutions: Blogging in 2015

Here is my last New Year’s Resolution post for 2015. If I haven’t already bored you with my previous New Year’s posts, read on for some resolutions goals for All Eyes On Screen in the upcoming year.


More Consistent Posting

This is the biggie, and it’s where I have the most room for growth. I have all the respect in the world for fellow bloggers who seem to churn out post after post on the most current film news. It’s a constant reminder to me to be more consistent as I strive to make All Eyes On Screen a better and more interesting site for visitors and fellow bloggers.


Add New Series

One of my big goals for movies is to start my first Blindspot Series. I’m still looking for several recommendations, so if you have any classics to suggest, please leave an idea in the comments on that post. Aside from a Blindspot Series, I’d also like to add some other series. I started All Eyes on the SMALL Screen last year, and I’d like to continue it. But I’d also like to try out new ideas as I find the time. I always appreciate new ideas, even if can’t follow through with all of them.


Host/Start a Blogathan

Several of my blogging friends have hosted or started a blogathan in 2014. I’d like 2015 to be the year that I start my first one. I’m considering several ideas, and I’m hoping to unveil the official one I select during a slower time of the year when everyone isn’t talking about the Academy Awards or celebrating the holidays with family.


Interact on More Sites

This is the hardest resolution for me. It’s not that I don’t want to visit, read, or comment on sites, as much as it’s dividing my time between watching movies, writing posts, and interacting on fellow bloggers’s sites. That’s when it gets tricky. So this year, I’m striving to read and comment on more of your sites. I’m constantly learning new things, discovering new ideas, and developing my site, writing style, and opinions as I interact with the growing movie blogging community. You are my teachers, my friends, and my biggest supporters. So I hope to give back more this year than I’ve been able in past years.

Wish me luck as I seek to read more, catch up on TV, watch more movies, and sharpen my blogging skills in 2015! I’m rooting for you guys too!

What are your blogging resolutions for 2015?

New Year’s Resolutions: Movie List for 2015

For me, movie resolutions are the hardest because I feel like I have such a long way ahead. That isn’t to say I’m not excited to introduce myself to new movies, but I do find it challenging to “keep up.” Which brings me to my first resolution for watching movies in 2015 . . .


Watch Movies at My Own Pace

For those of you who watch a lot of movies, have you ever felt like you can’t keep up with the rest of the movie blogging community? Perhaps it is just me, but I regularly struggle to “keep up” with everyone else. That isn’t to say that I need to see as many movies as the rest of you, but there is this feeling of falling behind when many other movie bloggers see films at pre-screenings, film events, and opening weekends. I say this to resolve that I will try to start watching movies more at my own pace, even if that means posting reviews a week or two later than the average viewer/blogger.


Make Progress on My Shame List

I started my own Shame List last September after being inspired by other bloggers who admitted to the Internet that there were a great many classics they have yet to see. So I made my own list of thirty-one titles of popular movies ranging from 1931 to 1999 that I’d like to see. I saw three of those last year (averaging one per month), and now my list is down to twenty-eight. I’d like to set my goal at crossing at least ten more of those movies off my list in 2015.


Start My First Blindspot Series

I realized how much I was missing out on classic films when I noticed multiple other movie bloggers were posting about their own Blindspot Series. I have wanted to start my own for a while, but the right opportunity hasn’t been present until now. I want the goal to be attainable, so copying what many of my film friends have done, I am starting my own list of twelve movies to be featured on my very own Blindspot Series. This series will be different from my own Shame List, because although I took recommendations for that list, I decided on the first twenty films myself.

Similarly to what I did with my Reading Resolutions for 2015, I’ll be taking only recommendations for this list, with one exception. I’m making Singing in the Rain (1952) my January film selection since it has been recommended to me more times than I can count (shout-out to my friend Cynthia who wrote out a list of movies I needed to see a couple years ago, making sure to emphasize that I see Singing in the Rain). I’d like to compile this list by the end of the month so I am set for the rest of the year. I’m all for new ideas in this series since I really haven’t seen many classic films, so include your suggestions in the comments section below. I will choose the eleven most popular choices, so long as I get at least eleven film recommendations.

2.-12. Your Recommendations


See All Films Nominated for Multiple Categories at the 2015-2016 Oscars

This was an unwritten goal of mine for the 2014-2015 season. I’m still working towards it, especially considering that the list of Oscar nominees hasn’t been released yet. I agree that it is a bit of a popularity contest. But the take-away for me is that I get to see a lot of great movies, regardless of whether they “earn” a golden statue or not. Below are the categories that I’d like to see all of the nominees before the award ceremony in February of 2016.

5. Best Picture Category

4. Best Actor/Actress Categories

3. Best Supporting Actor/Actress Categories

2. Best Original/Adapted Screenplay Categories

1. Best Soundtrack Category

After considering all of those hefty goals for this year, I’m excited (and a little nervous) to move forward into unchartered territory for All Eyes On Screen. Thank you for all of your support in commenting, liking, and interacting on the site . . . it has been the greatest encouragement to me, and I’m thankful to count so many of you as friends in my life.

Stay tuned for a final New Years Resolution post tomorrow, this time on blogging. Next week I’ll be posting about the Best and the Worst of 2014 for books, TV shows, and movies I’ve read and seen in 2014.

What are your movie resolutions for 2015?

New Year’s Resolutions: Television List for 2015

Since college, I have been a bigger fan of movies than television. But in recent years, it seems like there have been more and more awesome TV shows featuring some of the most talented actors and actresses. With the inception of Netflix and other Internet-streaming sites, TV shows have never been more accessible to people today than ever before.

Last year marked the first time I decided to review a TV show on the site: The Walking Dead (2010-present). The first half of the season is over, and another eight episodes lie ahead. I’m excited to continue reviewing the show, along with hoping to review more shows as my time frees up.

Below are my television resolutions for the year 2015.


 Watch Less TV

Totally contradictory to a new year’s resolution, right? I want to watch less TV to free up more time for the more important things in my life, such as my relationships with family and friends. I also want to spend my time being more productive on projects, hobbies, and work. Thinking back through last year, I realize that I spent more time than necessary in front of a screen. To remind myself of this goal, I included three benefits specifically for All Eyes On Screen I could take away from watching less TV in 2015:

3. Watch more movies

2. Write more posts

1. Be more interactive on friends’ sites


Check Out “Buzzed About” Shows

“Good” is such a subjective word today. I realize everyone forms different opinions on television shows. Some of these have been regarded as critically-acclaimed hits. I mostly want to check these out because they attracted my interest or were recommended to me over the past year. I have yet to see a show that can top AMC‘s The Killing (2011-2014) for me. And whether these shows do that or not, I’m excited to see what all the buzz is about.

5. Orphan BlackBBC America

4. True DetectiveHBO

3. Marco PoloNetflix

2. The Bletchley CircleUTV

1. The FollowingFOX


Finish (or Catch Up on) TV Series I’ve Started

I like to finish things I start, and that includes television shows. Not all are worth finishing, but there are some shows completely worth my time. Some I have to wait until the next season is available on Netflix, and other shows I haven’t managed to finish yet.

4. Gilmore GirlsCW (Netflix)

3. White CollarUSA

2. Melissa & JoeyABC Family

1. The BlacklistNBC


Check Out the “Oldies, But Goodies”

There was a time in my life when TV was completely inaccessible. Now that I have the ability to watch occasionally, I’ve been itching to check out major shows I missed out on when they aired. These shows might not be current, but some of them are still highly regarded.

5. Friends (1994-2004)

4. The O.C. (2003-2007)

3. Lost (2004-2010)

2. Prison Break (2005-2008)

1. Merlin (2008-2012)


Your Recommendations

This time around, I won’t be asking for a list of shows I will plan to watch this year, considering I’m hoping to limit my TV time rather than watch too much of it. However, I’m still very much interested in what TV shows you’re checking out this year, and which ones you would recommend I keep an eye on for future viewing.

Stay tuned for more New Years Resolutions posts this week and next. Following this series, I’ll be posting about the Best and the Worst for books, TV shows, and movies I’ve read and seen in 2014.

What are your television resolutions for 2015?

New Year’s Resolutions: Reading List for 2015 (Updated 3/13)

Hey everyone! It’s exciting to be back after taking a 2 1/2 week-break from blogging at All Eyes On Screen. I had a wonderful Christmas and fun New Year’s celebration with family and friends in both my hometown state of Illinois and my current residence in Wisconsin. While I was starting to take down all of my holiday decorations, I was thinking through all of the resolutions I have for this new year that has already started. Reviving All Eyes On Screen in 2014 was one of the most fulfilling and fun resolutions to accomplish. As I’m looking to the future, I hope to continue to update and improve All Eyes On Screen, from upping the quality of writing content, to publishing more posts on a consistent basis. I anticipate some major changes happening personally in my life over the next year, but I am hoping to learn to balance my time better, and regularly write for the site. With that all said, I do realize that breaks from writing will be inevitable and necessary to take from time to time; however, I will be aiming to publish posts as consistently and regularly as possible. Looking to the future of 2015, I have been composing lists of resolutions that will serve as an accountability and goal for me to work towards bettering myself and All Eyes On Screen. My first goal related to the site is to read more books. So many of the movies we see today are based on someone’s written work, and I think we often get a more well-rounded view and appreciation for source material when we read it. I’ll admit that I’m not a huge reader, but I’d like to change that. I read ten books in 2014, so I’d like to improve that number by reading twenty-five books over the year 2015. I’ve separated my list into sections that I can work towards. Note: I’ve starred all the books that have (or will have) a movie/TV adaptation (that I’m aware of) with one star. I added a second star for all of the movie/TV adaptations I’ve already seen.


 Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

This past year, I just started watching the awesome show Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) from the beginning in order, after Netflix so graciously added the show to their streaming service. Gilmore Girls has become my current TV addiction, and with it, a desire to read more, given that Rory always has a book in her hands. I found this awesome list on Pinterest that states: “Over the course of seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, Rory Gilmore was seen reading 339 books on screen.” I selected five on the list that piqued my interest:

25. The Virgin Suicides** by Jeffrey Eugenides

24. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (Finished 2/16)

23. The Shining** by Stephen King

22. The Great Gatsby** by F. Scott Fitzgerald

21. On the Road* by Jack Kerouac


Finishing (or Continuing) Series

Here is my list of books that are part of series I’d like to finish. It’s embarrassing to admit that I haven’t finished the Harry Potter collection, but I resolve to conclude the series this year. And since we’re talking about J.K. Rowling books here, I decided to add the second book of her Cormoran Strike novels to my series list. Without apology, I also admit to never finishing Tolkein’s The Return of the King after struggling through the first two in the trilogy.

20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix** by J.K. Rowling (halfway through)

19. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince** by J.K. Rowling

18. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows** by J.K. Rowling

17. The Silkworm* by Robert Galbraith

16. The Return of the King** by J.R.R. Tolkein


Five Personal Choices

Here are five books I’ve been looking forward to starting:

15. Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire)* by George R.R. Martin

14. The Count of Monte Cristo** by Alexandre Dumas

13. Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling

12. Divergent** by Veronica Roth

11. The Bourne Identity** by Robert Ludlum


Book Club Selections

When I moved to Wisconsin halfway through last year, I joined a growing book club. Thanks to that club, I got back into reading. We usually have six meetings a year (one every other month). The future ones have yet to be determined, although talk of reading Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken has surfaced . . .

10. To Kill a Mockingbird** by Harper Lee (Finished 1/22)

9. Unbroken* by Laura Hillenbrand (Finished 3/12)

8. Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times* by Jennifer Worth

7. To be determined

6. To be determined


Your Recommendations

I handed this section over to readers, commenters, and anyone who mentioned an idea via word of mouth, Facebook, or Twitter. These are the five books I picked, thanks to your recommendations:

5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

3. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo** by Stieg Larsson

1. The Fault in Our Stars** by John Green


Stay tuned for more New Years Resolutions posts this week and next, and don’t forget to check out my Reading Corner on the bottom left of the site, where I list what I’m currently reading.

I’ll be making the rounds on everyone else’s sites over the next three weeks in hopes of catching up to my lengthy feed of unread posts.

What are your reading resolutions for 2015?