What I Read - December Edition

I hope you had or are having a very merry holiday season! I thoroughly enjoyed my two day Christmas break [saving vacation days for maternity leave]! The holidays are pretty quiet for me at work, so I can't complain there! I didn't quite hit my 30 book mark for the year but I got pretty darn close! Not sure what goal I'll set for next year as new babies tend to eat into your reading time. Fewer than 10 weeks left until the due date and if he follows his brother's example he'll be here a few days before then.

I picked this book up from the local bookstore on Small Business Saturday. I had heard so many good things about it I couldn't resist. A young adult love story involving misfits? Count me in! And big surprise? I loved it so much I finished it in a handful of days, which around these parts is unheard of.

The book is about new girl Eleanor and he unlikely romance with comic lover Park. They meet by chance on the school bus and slowly their relationship builds to the point where they are nearly inseparable. Life circumstances do their best to get in between the two teens, but it isn't enough to keep them from falling head over heels for one another. 

I have to admit I have a soft spot in my heart for teen romance as the husband and I fell for each other the first night we met at age 17. The feeling of being young and in love is like no other. It is ridiculously all consuming and downright magical. That is what Rainbow Rowell captured in this book. And how adorable is the fan art?! 


I received an advanced copy of Hands Free Mama from BookSneeze in exhange for an honest review. I’m not sure when this book came across my radar but as soon as I saw the title I added it to my “To Read” list on GoodReads. Being a working mama to 2.5 kids who is highly engaged in social media, sometimes to my own chagrin, I often find myself struggling to find the right balance for myself and my family. This is where Stafford’s book comes into play. 

Stafford is a self-proclaimed perfectionist do-it-all mama who realized a few years ago that she had lost herself to her endless to-do list. She found that she was missing out on the things in life that really mattered: heart felt connection with those she loved most, namely her two young daughters and husband. She began a personal journey to live more intentionally which meant overhauling her relationship with technology and social media. She started a blog to chronicle her journey where she recognized there was a hunger for this type of change in the parenting community. That led to this book, this movement.

This is a book that you read through once and then study chapter by chapter over the course of a year. I read it all over the course of a week and there is so much to this book that you can’t put it up on a shelf after your first read through. I related to SO MUCH of what Stafford had to say. It’s amazing how easily we can let life slip right by us because we’re too busy to notice it. With work, running a household, raising children, cultivating a marriage, trying to have a social life or hobbies, etc it can be easy to be distracted from those small moments that really matter. The pride on your toddler’s face when he finally is able to dress himself. The snippets of wisdom that come out of the mouth of your elementary schooler at unexpected times. The beauty of a winter sunrise on a stressful morning commute. All of those things can get swallowed up by the constant go go go mentality so many of us seem to share these days. 

I’ll admit the whole concept can be overwhelming if you try to tackle it all at once. That is why breaking it down into smaller pieces and pursuing each one at your own pace is key. I honestly couldn’t wait to finish the book so I can start tackling the first part myself. Stafford ends each chapter with questions to get you thinking and to help you focus on the important issues related to that particular piece of the puzzle. You don’t have to completely give up technology and social media to join the Hands Free movement. Stafford describes it as “making a conscious decision to temporarily push aside distractions and give your undivided attention to someone or something meaningful in your life.” So follow Stafford’s steps and add your own flair. Start with a few minutes a day and continue to grow that time each month as you yourself grow as a parent, spouse, and friend. There are very few parenting movements I will proudly stand behind but the Hands Free movement is definitely one I can get behind. I don't want my boys to remember me as the mama who was always on her phone or her computer. It will  be a challenge, but it's one I'm willing to tackle. I highly recommend picking this book up when it's released in January.

I have heard nothing but positive things about Steve Martin's writing and finally managed to pick up one of his books. This book is about the New York art scene so I was skeptical at first. But Martin's writing drew me right in. The story follows the life of an up and comer in the art sales world Lacey Yeager. It follows her successes and failures over almost two decades. Lacey is not a likeable character but it doesn't detract from the ability to enjoy the story.

It's true, Martin is a great writer. He was able to develop complex characters with fewer words and pages than many other authors I have read. He gave enough background on art and that world that you were able to follow along but didn't get bored with too many mundane details. I look forward to reading more of his books in the future even if they aren't on subjects I think I'd normally enjoy. Good writing is good writing.

December was a fun month of reading. I can't wait to dig in for 2014! I still have pretty much everything released in 2013 to catch up on!

[Disclaimer: If you click on the above Amazon links and purchase anything I receive a small commission from Amazon. Like a few cents, which I appreciate greatly. Buying from Amazon is awesome, but your local library is pretty cool too.]

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