I kicked off the year with Elicia Hyder's To Be Her First and was sucked in from the start! It's definitely a "teen" novel, as it's focused around high school and the main character's lack of "firsts" surrounding boyfriends and proms and the like. I finished it in a few hours in one sitting and it was so good that I just had to find out what happened next! (I gave this one 4 stars.) So...
I quickly grabbed the next book, The Bed She Made (the Kindle edition is FREE right now!) and was definitely not disappointed! It had a few plot twists that I wasn't quite anticipating that drew me in more, but most of all, it really was a good story about love, forgiveness, and owning your past. I laughed. I cried. And I felt like I was experiencing the young girl's happiness and tragedies right alongside her. So good! I gave it 4 stars.
Next up was Someone Else's Fairytale by E.M. Tippetts (also free for Kindle - you're welcome). I honestly had never heard of this book or author until I picked it up, and I fell in love. Hard. Let's start with the cover, please? It's bright and enticing and a little mysterious if you ask me! Throw in a college student with a tumultuous past and family history who wants nothing to do with a famous Hollywood actor that can't stay away from her and I'm in. Soooo in. This one was definitely geared toward a young adult (YA) audience and I LOVED it. Seriously. FIVE STARS. And then...
I picked up Nobody's Damsel, the next book in the series! (Does anyone else see a pattern here?) I was so excited for this one, as the first one just grabbed me from the very beginning. However, I'll have to admit that I was a little disappointed in this one. The story line between the two main characters left me wanting more and I found myself uninterested in it. That could also have something to do with the criminal case in this book, though. I'm fascinated with crime dramas (see: CSI, Criminal Minds, Bones, etc.) and also work in the field, so yeah. I gave this one 4 stars (read: 3.5 stars). But with that, I'm anxious to continue reading this series to see what else unfolds!
Next up is the book I chose for this month's #Collaboreads linkup with Amber and Rachel. This month's topic was something to make you better and I immediately knew I'd be filling my head and heart with all things Brene Brown. So, I hit up Barnes & Noble, and lo and behold...
Daring Greatly entered my life and I haven't looked back since. I knew Brene Brown had quite the following about being your true self and vulnerable and imperfect, and these are all things I struggle with. So it was seriously meant to be. As soon as I started this one, I just knew that it was going to be life changing, and I was right! So to review this bad boy, I'm using the R.E.A.D.S. format that Amber and Rachel came up with. (READS = Riveting. Elements. Associate. Design. Stars.)
I could not get enough of the Vulnerability Armory. Seriously. To have a seasoned researcher put into words all the things you do and use as defense mechanisms to keep from having to be vulnerable and scared is pretty spectacular, to put it mildly.
Not only does Brene Brown give you examples of different types of armor we all put on in the scramble to shy away from being vulnerable, she also gives us solutions and ways to just put the armor down. Let's just say I completely understand the hype that surrounds this amazing woman, researcher, and author. Love her!
I found myself nodding along to a lot of what Brene had to say throughout this book and kind of wide-eyed and disconnected at other times. Basically, I related to some of her story but not to all of it. However, I thoroughly enjoyed all parts because even though some of the experiences aren't ones I'm familiar with, they are some that I come into contact with in other people. So it helps to have that sense of "understanding" if you will.
Did this book associate with things going on in my life right now? DID IT EVER! I'll just start by sharing my favorite phrase in the entire book:
"Yes, softening into joy is uncomfortable. Yes, it's scary. Yes, it's vulnerable. But every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen - and they do happen - we are stronger."
This is perfection, and just brings home my all-time favorite phrase: IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS. I'm all about the little things in life and finding joy in them is truly important. Also, this:
"We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we're afraid to let them see it in us."
Oh my, yes. This book takes you DEEP within yourself and really gets under all the scabs that have formed over your fears and vulnerability. And then it rips them wide open. Repeatedly.
Loved the font and color gradient on the cover. To be honest though, it was off-putting at first - it was bold and loud and not super pretty. But I later learned it was exactly like the beautiful and eloquent words that I discovered inside of it. So it's perfect.
Five. For reasons stated above (and then some).
I'm also being more intentional in logging my reads this year, so be sure to follow along on Goodreads! Also, let me know so I can follow you, too, and maybe pick up a few good suggestions for February's books!