It's the Honest Bookclub's first birthday on Friday, and celebration plans abound! In that vein, we are kicking off the official party with this Top 10, this time featuring not a specific aspect of books, but our very own favorite bookish moments of the past year as they pertain to this blog. A year ago, we were taking our very first steps and navigating the seemingly labyrinthine intricacies of the blogging world. Today, blogging is second nature. And that more than anything has been our goal from the very start: to do it well, and do to it with joy. To connect readers to authors, and authors to readers. To find new favorites and share them with the world. And to have fun doing it.

We were lucky enough to have our dreams come true. And today, we're sharing our favorite moments, featuring inspirational people, stunning books and incredible stops we've made along the way.

Happy birthday to us!

1. Starting The Honest Bookclub

The blog being born is a good way to start! Our decision to convert from readers to bloggers was chiefly fueled by our desire to connect with readers, bloggers, publishers and authors alike, and become a go-between for one and all. As luck would have it, a book blog is also a convenient place to talk books. Which is good, because if there's one thing we like to talk, it's books. It's been a year of new experiences, new connections and new discoveries. And we hope there are many more lying ahead.

  • The Honest Bookclub was created on May 29th, 2014 (but our Twitter birthday is today!)

2. Thoughtful blog tour

If you've read our blog before, our Top 10s in particular, then you'll be aware what fans we are of the Thoughtless series. We've certainly made it no secret. To receive an ARC of a book from one of our favourite series was enough to make our year in and of itself. But to be contacted by the publisher to do a blog tour after the fact, well, that elicited a few shrieks. We'd been waiting for Thoughtful from the day it was announced (no, really, there's a post to document it). Once we had it in our hands, all of the rest of it was gravy for a while. Kellan Kyle early? Yes, please.

3. NaNoWriMo

For all intents and purposes, November was a novel-writing month. November was, in fact, the novel-writing month. This wasn't true just for the official NaNoWriMo website, where each year thousands of authors and aspiring authors flock in an attempt to pen 50k in 30 days - it was also true for our blog. As NaNoWriMo participants, we devoted a month of November to Top 10 lists which focused on the writing craft, writing-specific quotes of the week, and various tips and tricks for surviving one's first draft in one peace, all the while racing to complete our very own first drafts. We discovered what a difference a writing buddy can make, the importance of novel-specific playlists, and - most importantly - what our favorite writing snacks are. (Just kidding. The writing buddies are the most important. Unless you're really hungry.)

4. Lies We Tell Ourselves blog tour

The Lies We Tell Ourselves blog tour was special for us. It was special, because it was our first time being contacted by Harlequin UK. It was special, because we were sent a physical ARC which crossed thousands of miles so we both could read and review it together. And it was special, because Lies We Tell Ourselves is a modern classic in the making - a tremendously important read which surprised and intrigued us, and just about shattered all our expectations. Author Robin Talley weaves a tale of one of the first black girls to attend a previously all-white school in Virginia at the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement, while at the same time struggling with her identity, her sexuality and with the distinction between what is right and what is fair in a world of a thousand inequalities.

5. Partnering with BookFish Books

It all started with This Is Sarah, Ally Malienko's poignant debut about a girl in desperate search of a missing sister, and a guy in desperate search of his missing girlfriend. It had not been the first ARC we had received, but in many ways it was the game-changing one: partly because we loved and praised it every chance we got, and partly because within days, we were BFFs with BookFish Books - or whatever the blog-publisher equivalent of BFFs is. It is always exciting for a blog to 'partner' with a publisher. But it is never as exciting as when the publisher in question consists of nothing but delightful authors who pen delightful stories which we then get a chance to delight in early.

6. Sarah J. Maas book signing

A few short days ago, Natalie finally got to meet Sarah J. Maas at a Waterstones book signing in London. We, of course, had the event meticulously documented for posterity. Sarah J. Maas is a kind of deity in the fantasy community at large, but nowhere more so than with the two of us. It was an honour and a privilege to meet the mind behind Celaena, Dorian, Chaol, Rowan - and now behind Feyre and Tamlin. Sarah's writing process, her tips and tricks for writers were invaluable and fascinating. And if the event could have gone on forever... well, there was wine and there was Sarah. Natalie wouldn't have minded.

7. Bookish fanart

The day it dawned on Lexie that she could create art not only to music, but also to audiobooks, was a good day for this blog's interdisciplinary aspirations. If books are our passion (and they are!), then an opportunity to combine them with still another passion is a kind of passion overdrive. The result was fan art of the bookish variety. And fan art was inspiration transmogrified. To channel the inspiration we gain from books into another kind of inspiration is one of the most genuine expressions of our love of books there is. And whether it's stick figures or elaborate artwork, we delight in reinterpreting our favorite books in a visual medium.

8. The books which changed our lives

It goes without saying that the foremost highlight of running a book blog is getting to actually read books. Between ourselves, in the past year alone we've read over 150 of them! But this particular highlight of our year isn't so much dedicated to each of the books that we have read - but instead to ones which changed our lives. We've bonded over our mutual love of the Shatter Me series. Lexie still won't stop (s)talking anything-Maggie-Stiefvater. Natalie battled fallen angels in Unearthly. In the end, we've discovered that G.R.R. Martin was not wrong to write that a reader lives a thousand lives.

9. NetGalley

We are book bloggers. We love ARCs. NetGalley has ARCs. Ergo, we love NetGalley. It was Colleen Hoover who first mentioned the website to us in a correspondence where we shamelessly lobbied for an early copy of Ugly Love last spring. And though we ended up foregoing the opportunity to get our hands on that particular ARC, NetGalley proved to be a godsend. And Colleen Hoover once again changed our lives for the better. No surprises there. She's been doing it all along.

10. Sharing it all with you

We aren't the first to claim that we would be nothing without our followers. But we mean it from the bottom of our hearts all the same. Never at any point have we sat down and doled out a number of friends/readers/followers we wished we would have in a year's time. The number hardly mattered. As long as one person cared, we reasoned, there was reason to continue. As long as we made one author's day by showing their work the appreciation it deserved, it would all be worth it. And now, a year later, with so many amazing authors and still more amazing readers we've interacted with, our initial wish has come true a thousandfold. And if there was a way to give each and every one of you a hug, we would. And for all intents and purposes, we are! *hugs* You've helped make it into a journey of our lives.

It's never easy to narrow any choice down to just ten of anything. Each Monday is a bit of a struggle. But never has it been a greater one than when our very own experiences were concerned. We could have picked a hundred favorite moments, really. But these are the ten we still discuss to this day, and the ten which made this past year so effortless and so inspirational. Thank you so much for being on this journey with us so far. And here's to many more in our future!