Hello dear audience. As most of you know, 2021 was my year to start reading again. It has been a fantastic journey that has opened doors to so many different worlds. So far, I’ve read 48 books. My original goal was 20, which I clearly blew out of the water. I’m hoping to get in 50 by the end of the year, so wish me luck. These have been my absolute favorites this year. For the most part, I couldn’t put these down.
Knockout – Mia Kang
I opened 2021 with this book. I found Mia Kang on Instagram a few years ago. She was presented to me as a “Street Size” model. In the modeling industry, you’re a Straight Size Model (size 4 or under) or a Plus Size model (size 14+). Okay. Cool. But what about those of us who fall into the middle? You had to starve yourself to be a size 4 or under or you could gain weight to be a size 14+. Mia’s journey is one that a lot of women know. It’s about a shitty relationship with food and exercise. She exposes the underbelly of the modeling industry and is vulnerable. From drugs, to abusive relationships, to photoshoots filled with food… that the models aren’t allowed to eat. It’s horrific.
Mia’s story hit way too close to home for me. I wasn’t ever a model. I was, however, a young woman who absolutely had a horrible relationship with food. Calorie Counting stuck its claws in me and no matter how hard I work, I can’t shake it off. Calculating calories is second nature at this point. When I started exercising, it was cardio only because that’s what really worked with losing weight for me (ya know, not eating and walking a lot without passing out. That’s a hell of a workout!!). Mia gave me the permission to love working out and to take care of my body while doing it. During her recovery, she tried to skip meals and do her hard workouts. For those of you who do hard workouts… That doesn’t fly. You have to nourish yourself. I have had to stop my workouts in the past because I wasn’t nourishing myself enough to get through them. She has really helped me fall in love with working out as a way to make myself STRONG, not skinny.
Halfway to the Grave – Jeaniene Frost
When I decided to read whatever books I wanted, I went to Half Price Books and purchased a couple of first books in vampire series’. This was one of them and my absolute favorite of the bunch (so far at least). In this series, you follow Cat, a vampire human hybrid (presumably the only one on Earth) who has made it her mission to kill as many vampires as she can. Until she meets Bones. They team up together to take down a mafia of vampires and fall in love during the process. Very typical enemies to lovers, which I live for. The series is complete (you’re welcome) and the author weaves in historical characters that are apparently part of the undead community, which is pretty fun. I never got bored during this series and they were very easy to read.
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer Armentrout
Would you like to know how I found the author Jennifer Armentrout? (Yes yes, I know you do Jessica). I can’t remember the name of the game, since there’s probably at least 20 of them out there in the world. You know those really lame “story telling” games that are filled with just absolute trash? Well, one of my friends is obsessed with them so I downloaded one late last year. I didn’t get obsessed and I would often forget about it but one day I started a story that I loved. So I went and found the book(s) and literally just devoured them immediately. I think I read the entire series within 2 weeks. I told Jessica about the books and she goes, “oh hey, I’m reading her books that are about vampires.”
And here we are.
This is definitely a series where you have to love vampire books. If you read Twilight and liked it, these are probably for you. There’s world building, “spice”, handsome strangers, badass women, and questionable “good guys”. In this series (that’s not finished #sorrynotsorry), we follow Poppy, a young woman who has been crowned “The Maiden” – the woman who is basically supposed to save her people. She is kept behind a veil at all times and is only allowed to speak to a very select few people. Luckily, one of those is a guard who teaches her how to fight. She’s also very wiley and the first book opens on her sneaking out of the castle to go to a poker house (slash brothel!) and running into the super hot new guard, Hawke.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Talor Jenkins Reid
THIS BOOK WRECKED ME. I kept seeing it everywhere so I finally caved and bought it. The dress on the front cover really drew me in, not gonna lie. This is a book that I just can’t tell you much about. I went into it completely blind. I just knew that it had great reviews. I’m very thankful for that. What I can tell you is that it tells the (fictional) story of an old Hollywood actress, Evelyn Hugo, who has been married 7 times. Since leaving the spotlight, she has kept very private. She’s now ready to tell the world her story. Just… go read it okay?
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B Rosenberg
When I started my breath work sessions, I was told to pick this book up. At first, I was a little offended. I’m not a verbally abusive person (or an abusive person at all). So why did I need this book? I picked it up anyway and I’m so happy I did. This book should be taught in school and every person should read it. This book teaches you not only how to speak to others (from romantic relationships to work relationships and everything in between) but how to speak to yourself. Have you ever been in a fight with your partner over something trivial simply because you didn’t communicate the right things? Or maybe because you said something regrettable because you were so upset and didn’t take the time to organize what you really wanted to get across. We all do it. We’ve all been there. This book helps you to learn how to avoid that mess. Additionally, it teaches you the really terrible things you tell yourself without even thinking about it. One of my favorite lessons from there is trying to stop saying “I have to do this” or “I should do this” – but that’s another blog post. Guess you’re going to have to buy the book and stay tuned.
Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark by Cassandra Peterson
Elvira was one of my idols growing up. My mom loved Elvira and Morticia, despite not liking anything scary or creepy. Elvira is the whole package: a complete babe, loves scary movies, and hilarious. When she released her biography this year, I pre-ordered it. I knew it would be a book to add to my collection. I was not disappointed. Her life was wild! Who else can claim to have kissed both Elvis and Jimi Hendrix?! The way that Cassandra writes really brings you into her world and makes you feel like you’re hanging out with a long time friend over some drinks. There were a lot of times my jaw hit the floor, in absolute shock that she was never kidnapped or murdered, despite all the trouble she’d find herself in. She also does not hold back on creepy famous men. My kind of woman. Elvira was around before I was born, so I didn’t get to see the phenomenon that was Elvira breaking onto the scene. She was someone I looked up to because she could be funny and creepy and effortlessly cool and beautiful and just herself. She taught me that you don’t have to look or act a certain way. You just have to stay true to yourself. And also to wear a lot of black at all times. Oh also, Vampira is a dick.
In the end, you know I’m a huge fan of reading whatever makes your heart sing. That’s what all these books did for me and I would be ecstatic to know they did the same for you. If we seem to dig the same books, follow me on GoodReads to spy on what I’m reading.
What was your favorite book you read this year? Leave me a comment so I can check it out in 2022!