Whew, almost caught up with all my monthly reads! Here is December and hopefully I will get January out before February is over! (And then get February out at the start of March. Cuz then I’ll be back on track)

Dot Journaling by Rachel Wilkerson Miller


Dot Journaling is a very basic breakdown of starting a bujo. I had hoped the author would have some more advanced ideas but everything in this book is easily found online. The book is well written but the author gives her opinion on each spread. She likes them all, even if she doesn’t use them. I would have found it more believable if she was like, “I don’t like this but it may work for you”. I’d like real opinions, not everything is great!

Do a google search, look at some YouTube videos, and check out Pinterest instead.

Virgin River by Robyn Carr


I decided to read the book before watching the hit Netflix show. I really do enjoy reading before watching. I have heard the show is better than the book. I enjoyed the overall story so I’ll check out the show, not sure if I will continue reading the series though.

The story of a big-city girl who moves to a small town deals with a curmudgeon for a boss and falls in love with the boy next door is fine. Predictable but fine. Some of the writing was just not my taste. There was also one graphic passage I felt uncomfortable reading and didn’t think it added to the story. The author could have gotten the point across without going into such detail.

I can see why these books are popular, just not really my cup of tea.

The Clause in Christmas by Rachael Bloome


Ok, now this? This is a Hallmark Christmas movie in book form and I AM HERE FOR IT. This was my favorite book I read this month. It was super cute and if you like those cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies, you need to read this book.

Cassie is down on her luck and not looking forward to the Christmas season. Her estranged grandmother has unexpectedly left Cassie her house in small-town Poppy Creek. Except there’s a catch. Cassie needs to complete the Christmas calendar. Along the way, she falls in love with loveable lawyer Luke and becomes close with many other residents of Poppy Creek. But will Cassie be able to finish the Christmas calendar in time?

Y’all. I am not kidding you. I loved this book and could not put it down. It is the first in a series and I keep waiting for the next book to make it to Prime Reading. 

Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Imagine one day opening the mail to find a letter from your wife’s lover’s wife. Carrie finds out her husband is having an affair. Instead of confronting him, she writes to her husband’s lovers husband. The two start a correspondence and a friendship develops along the way.

This book is interesting as it is presented as a series of letters between the characters. It is a short story and very easy to read. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to pretty much anyone.

Get Messy by Caylee Gray


I’ve been interested in starting an art journal for the last few months. I have watched some videos, looked at art journals on Instagram and Reddit, and when I saw Get Messy by Caylee Grey on Netgalley I knew I had to request it.

Luckily I was picked for a free copy. I started reading it almost immediately. Although I haven’t officially started an art journal, I have per Grey unofficially started as I have been doing something daily to inspire creativity and working on ideas on scraps of paper. 

Get Messy doesn’t present anything new but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Often I need to be reminded of the what, why, and how of art and creativity.

After going over supplies, she gets into the trails, spark, grow, and cultivate. Kinda like choose your own adventure but with art and creativity! Each trail offers several activities to help spark ideas and spreads in your art journal.

Her writing style is easy to read and feels like I’m talking with a friend. I also liked that there were several color photos to go along with each project. It really helps to have images to go along with the written instructions. Sometimes you read something and go huh? But having a photo to reference is extremely helpful

This would be a great book for those looking to start or very early in their art journal. Even though I’m a beginner, I don’t know that this would provide much help for those that are more advanced art journalers. I may reference it as I start my art journal but I don’t see using it much once I get further into the hobby.

The Ultra Mindset by Travis Macy


The Ultra Mindset is life lessons from a pro endurance athlete Travis Macy. The subtitle of the book is “an endurance champions 8 core principles for success in business, sports, and life”. And yes, all of the advice can apply to any area of your life. It’s not meant just for ultra athletes to read.

I liked the setup of the book, each chapter presented one of the principles. Macy gave examples of how it applied to his life and racing and then he showed how these principles could also apply to business or life, not just sports. At the end of each chapter, there are activities or questions for you to think about how you can apply the principle to your life.

The writing was great. Macy wrote really eloquently and I often felt like I was with him on his adventures. He made me want to keep reading. I was recommended this book by an ultra runner when I was debating if I was capable of completing an ultra. It is definitely a great read for ultra athletes but really anyone could benefit from reading The Ultra Mindset. 

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo


I thought I would finally see what all the hype was with this book. Let me preface this with… I do not agree with like 99% of Marie  Kondo’s philosophy on clutter/belongings. She seems to have a very what I call hippie-dippie trippy attitude. It’s cool, it’s just not for me.

Most of the book is Kondo repeating herself. It didn’t feel like being repetitive to instill the concept, more like trying to fill pages. 

Part of her philosophy is to discard books you haven’t read yet and if you find you want to read it later to rebuy the book when you are ready to read. This is just wasteful. I have more than her recommended 3-40 unread books and I will not be discarding any of them and rebuying them later. She also says not to stockpile because people enjoy seeing how long they can go without or finding substitutes. Nope, that does not sound like fun. I hate when I run out of something and have to make an extra trip to get more. 

She said to trash photos that are just random places. Nope. As someone who has taken “random places” photos my whole life, NOPE. I enjoy looking back at the places I’ve been and reliving memories of those times. She has other strange ideas such as putting your bookshelf and books in the closets so they aren’t visible. Or taking everything out of your purse each night and putting it away in a closet. You want me to forget something this is the easiest way to do so. Like my work badge stays in the same pocket of my work bag at all times or I will show up at work without my badge. 

I do agree that a messy house and too much stuff does affect your mental health. I think there are many ways to go about decluttering and Marie Kondo’s way isn’t for me. I would say if you are interested in decluttering to check it out. It may click in your brain. We all don’t think the same and that’s ok. 

Did you read any Christmas or holiday-themed books in December? Let me know in the comments so I can add to my list for this December.

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Categories: Books


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.