Let’s talk about: The first book of the year

Have you ever thought about the first book you read each year? Do you think that it sets the tone for the rest of the year, or is it totally unrelated? I sat down and clicked through Goodreads (and other sites I used to use to track my reading, like listography) to find out the first book I read in the last twelve Januaries. The results were pretty interesting for some years! (For other years, absolutely meaningless.)

2007: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Sadly, in 2007, I didn’t read a ton of books. I was much more focused on living my life as a newly licensed driver. I went to a lot of movies (and parties, since I used to have an actual social life) with my friends that year and did not often hit up the library. This book was assigned in my English class.

2008: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. 2008 was another year that I didn’t do a whole ton of reading. It was my last year of high school and I read this in an elective literature class that I absolutely loved.  (I didn’t love this particular book that much, but that’s okay.)

2009: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. 2009 marked the first time that my first book of the year was in a foreign language! I remember reading this in a stuffy Spanish class during a bitterly cold Wisconsin winter. It was like -12 degrees all winter (or so it seemed) and the class was held in this suffocatingly small, suffocatingly hot classroom. The professor (not my favorite) kept making us analyze the heck out of every page, like what exactly does it mean that Don Quixote is jousting with windmills?

2010: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. The interesting thing about this book is that I very vividly remember reading it on the couch in my mom’s living room while I was home on winter break, but I remember absolutely nothing about the plot.

2011: Cecilia Valdes by Cirilo Villaverde. Ah, starting off another year with a Spanish novel. I adored this professor. He was tough but fair and he had the best Argentinian accent.  (He was also super attractive.)  This book actually introduced me to Audible when one of my classmates told me about how much easier the audiobook was to understand.

2012: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Did I really read this book six years ago?! I remember starting this series when I was working at a high school tutoring job. I think I devoured the first and second books in one day and then I stayed up all night to read Mockingjay. I remember talking about it with my kids (while half asleep) and encouraging them to read it. I feel really old now because I’ve just realized that those 14- to 18-year-old kids I was tutoring are now 20-24. Yikes. But anyway, it makes total sense that 2012 was the year I got back into reading if it’s the year that I read an entire trilogy in two days.

2013: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. In 2013, I lived with my boyfriend in an apartment that was sort of in the middle of nowhere. It was right off a major road, but far enough down that there really wasn’t anything nearby except for the Sleepy Hollow Motel, where people actually got murdered sometimes. (We didn’t live in that house for long.) 2013 was also the year that my boyfriend went all around the world for work and I was largely by myself. Our house was only six rooms but it had SIX DOORS to the outside and I was always paranoid that I’d leave one unlocked and the Sleepy Hollow Murderer (not a real thing) would kill me in my sleep. That January, I made the amazing life decision to read books like Gone Girl while home alone in that scary house. Awesome.

2014: 8-Bit Christmas by Kevin Jakubowski. Ah, the year of ARCs. I had a few in 2013, but I really started gunning for them in 2014. It makes sense that my first book of the year was an ARC because this is the year that I really started taking reviewing seriously.

2015: Rule Breaker by Haper Kincaid. The setting: New Years Day 2015. I am sick in bed with a terrible cold. We were supposed to travel to meet up with family but didn’t because I was so sick. Instead, I spent the day in bed marathoning this book, redesigning my blog, and writing (probably nonsensical) blog posts. This book perfectly illustrates most of what I read in 2015: contemporary romance.

2016: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare. Ah, a valiant effort to reduce my TBR pile. I purchased the first five books of The Mortal Instruments series in 2013 and quickly read the first three. The fourth was awful(!) and so I waited three years before starting the fifth. I still haven’t read the sixth, but that’s okay. I don’t really feel a need to now. But this book is actually pretty illustrative of 2016 because I read quite a bit of YA fantasy that year.

2017: Double Team by Sabrina Paige. Oh, 2017, we could call you the year of Kindle Unlimited and the year of erotica. What better way to start the year than with an erotic novel from Kindle Unlimited? I didn’t love this book, but 2017 actually turned out to be one of the best reading years on record.

2018: Saving Sara by Nicola Marsh. It’s hard to say if this book will accurately represent 2018 as a whole, but I am planning on reading more of what I own (and I had this book for a year and a half before finally picking it up). Hopefully, though, I’ll enjoy the other books more than I enjoyed this one.

If you’ve been keeping track, what were some of your first books of the year?

Goodreads | Amazon

At twenty-seven years old, Lauren Renwick’s mother has decided that she needs to settle down with a nice man and get her life together. Although she typically goes for bad boys, Lauren is making a sincere effort to follow her mother’s old-fashioned rules and make it work with an “appropriate” boyfriend. The rules include gems like “keep the mood light” and “limit how often you see him.” After a few months, Lauren’s pretty bored, but things are going alright. Or so she thinks. Then her perfect guy abandons her on New Year’s Eve to get back together with his ex.

Not wanting anyone to know she’s been dumped, Lauren heads to the one place where she’s least likely to find anyone she knows – a biker bar. And it’s there that she meets Jackson Sullivan, who violates just about every standard her mother has set for an appropriate partner. Lauren tries to stay away, but finds herself inexplicably drawn to this dark, mysterious stranger.

Rule Breaker is a really cute, surprisingly fluffy romance that you’ll probably be able to bang out in a couple hours. I appreciated that there was minimal angst, because that’s one trend in modern romances that I am completely over. Lauren obviously fell hard for Jackson, and he obviously fell just as hard for her. They’re honest and upfront about their feelings, not lying to themselves, each other, or their friends and families. Throughout their whirlwind romance, they even hold on to their other friendships, which is pretty rare these days! All in all, it’s a pretty mature relationship, and that’s one of the things I liked most about this book.

As for the characters, I thought Lauren was okay. She didn’t seem to have too much of a relationship with her parents, but was oddly fixated on whether her mother would approve of her dating life. Aside from that, I didn’t have any issues with her. I did vastly prefer Jackson over Lauren. Props to the author for making him an appropriate age for his accomplishments – it drives me crazy when the super sexy, super successful love interest is like nineteen years old.

I loved the way that Jackson persistently stood up for Lauren, and the fact that he was never afraid to call someone out for being terrible. There’s one scene in particular where Jackson clears the room to have a discussion with Lauren’s father and Lauren’s father says that’s the kind of overdramatic thing a woman would do. Jackson has the best response:

Jackson glared at him. “Am I supposed to feel like less of a man because you’re comparing me to women?”

Honestly, I had very minimal problems with this book, except for one thing: the characters are so focused on marriage. A month into their relationship, Lauren’s best friend grills her about whether this thing with Jackson is just a fling, or whether she’s in love and wants to be with him forever. After a month. Calm down, okay? I have been with my boyfriend for six years, and trust me when I say that I get pummeled with marriage questions all the time. But what I experience in my daily life is nothing compared to poor Lauren, who can’t even talk to Jackson’s six-year-old nephew without being asked whether they’re going to get married! Marriage is not the be-all and end-all of existence, and I would have liked it more if Lauren had just been allowed to be content with what she had.

In the end, Rule Breaker is a great first novel from Harper Kincaid. I wish I could give partial stars on Goodreads, because it clocks in around 3.75/5 for me.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m checking off #27: a book you can read in a day.