Joy Journal: September 9th


🍂🍃Dear Friends,

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!🍃🍂

I’m grateful today for…

🌿this quote🌿

“…Love watches, and sleeping slumbers not; weary, is not tired; straitened, is not constrained; frightened, is not disturbed; but, like a living flame and a burning torch, it bursts forth upwards and safely over-passes all.” ~Thomas A Kempis

||Psalms 143|| delicious words swirling around me|| first homeschool co-op of the new school year, seeing friends and “meeting” new ones in the musicians, artists, and writers we will be enjoying together||my baby sister’s 30th birthday ||daughter’s excitement over hairdo change and getting ears pierced||celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary||

||golden-tinged September🍂🍂🍂||son’s excitement about helping friend work in Colorado||beginning Christmas planning|| The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange – enchanting!||P.G. Wodehouse audio books, hilariously ridiculous || “Honey in the Rock” by Brooke Ligertwood|| “Find Me in the River” by Delirious||an Oswald Chamber quote texted to me from my sister||

||Jesse Ahmann’s instrumental cello on YouTube ||foggy pauses||cool, crisp early morning air, with a hint of autumn||laundry snapping on the line||hubby finding a praying mantis on lawn||hard but good conversations||duvet put back on bed, cool and soft||Amish woodsmoke on the wind||bits of red-tipped sumac peeking around bends in the road||Bull thistle fluff blowing in the air, sunset blazing through it||

||Middle-Earth mornings ||harvest moon shining on my face as I awake from sleep||new tea, cardamom cinnamon coming in the post||letter writing to friends in Canada||homeschool mom chat||autumn stationary perusing||journaling saving my sanity||listing gratitudes helping rightly order my heart||purr of Ghibli, our adore orange tabby kitten||piles of books to try and soak in||

How about you? Anything just really bringing you joy currently? Watching anything good? Reading? Creating? I’d love to hear. Happy End of Summer, friends. May you get the chance to soak in the remaining warmth and light of the year! 🍃🍂🍃 Peace & love, Amy 🍎🍏🌾🍂📚🍂🌿🍃📬🖤💌☕️🫖🌾🍎🍃🍏🍂♥️🖤🌿✍️📬💌🖤

Monday Ponderings {August 29th}

I ask Thee for a thoughtful love,

Through constant watching wise,

To meet the glad with joyful smiles,

And wipe the weeping eyes;

And a heart at leisure from itself

To soothe and sympathize.

Wherever in the world I am,

In whatsoe’er estate,

I have a fellowship with hearts

To keep and cultivate,

And a work of lowly love to do,

For the LORD on Whom I, wait.

A.L. Waring, The Cloud of Witness, p. 356

Joy Journal: August 5th

Early morning prayer and Bible reading outdoors has been life giving the last few weeks 🌿♥️🌿

☕️Dear Friends,

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!♥️🌿♥️

I’m grateful today for…

This 🌿quote🌿…

It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity – a friend on IG reminded me of this quote and it was exactly what I needed.

||pressing pizza dough down into three pans, flour-y hands|| talking with 3yo about his Schliech puma and jaguar toys||our new rescue kitten, Ghibli or Gibs||laying in the breeze and looking up through the Honey Locust to a patch of blue above||Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, an unique, adult murder mystery within a murder mystery ||Black-Eyed Susan’s opening their eyes||

3yo and I’s snuggle reading 📖 one day…

||my daughter’s chamomile flowers|| a wildflower bouquet from my oldest son|| new paneling slowly going into the bathroom || delish iced coffee made by friend, talking about homeschooling, life, and books with my bookstudy women||Christmas gift planning, thrifting and homemade ideas|| catching 3 yo on floor with pile of books, slowly turning the pages|| looking up and around and seeing 3 children reading near me ♥️📚||

||stacks of picture books to put away|| Malcolm Guite reads C.S. Lewis’ poetry at The Kilns ||zucchini, cucumber , and lovely green peppers from Amish stand||glorious sunrises breaking the dark’s hold || star-drenched skies|| paper bits, quotes, snippets, collage journal resurrected || jalapeño tango paint color still growing strong from Menards|| the summer smell, new mown hay, a friend said it “smelled green” and I looove that 🌿🌳🪴💚||

Amish 🌾 wheat…

||a friend texting me a quote from the book she is reading || white paint to wash away a few years of country living ||Miriam Elizabeth’s Jane Austen July vlogs on Booktube || using a laundromat for the first time in a long time, reading The Princess Bride while waiting for clothing to dry|| old Carl Larsson calendar art cut out and reused||Austin Kleon’s email newsletters, so many weird fascinating things to get creative juices flowing ||single sunflower 🌻 that grew under bird feeder || Berber van Gorp’s peaceful ASMR art journaling YouTube channel ||

Book choices for an upcoming road trip…📚📚📚

What’s on your gratitude list? Are you still soaking up summer or gearing up for autumn? I’m praying and planning a bit, but I’m still loving summer. I’m sooo enjoying reading 📖 outdoors and hanging out our 🧺 laundry. 🌿🌞♥️🌻🌿 Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Love 💕, Amy

Joy Journal: July 12th {Living Education Retreat and More}

Toad clover hat ♥️

♥️Dear Friends,

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!

I’m grateful today for…

The Gale by Winslow Homer – Wikipedia Commons

-and-

Les Maisons by Chaim Sountine – Wikipedia Commons

||making ice coffees at home|| Gerald Manley Hopkins wordsmithing || Karen Andreola’s books and back blog posts. || paper & river birch trees || sunlit diamonds on river and lake || buying just one book treasure from my favorite used bookstore || a favorite book, Fog Magic, found in a Little Free Library || washing my hair in the lake || making my very first 🍵 matcha latte, so good || Regina Spektor’s “The Call” || sunlight glinting off web as spider lowers herself to the floor ||

Green, white, and blue ♥️

|| extended family picnic in the shady, sun-flickering light of my childhood backyard || a lovely friend, Kathy, passing on a free Sense & Sensibility outdoor theatre ticket to me, it was a wonderful performance || the gift of a pedicure from and with my sister || reading The Mysteries of Uldolpho with a Booktuber friend || finishing I Capture the Castle and the feeling of wanting to start it right back over again immediately || Still thinking on Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book and it’s quiet and gentle exploration of youth, aging, and how the natural world ties us all together in understanding. I loved this book. || early cabin mornings, drenched in pine scent, quiet prayer with my coffee || time with cousins, sister in laws, and camp friends for my children and I|| daughter taking me for iced coffee ||

Deceased Common Sulfur my daughter found – so beautiful!

How well I remember that run through the stillness, the smell of wet stone and wet weeds as we crossed the bridge, the moment of excitement before we stepped in at the little door! Once through, we were in the cool dimness of the gatehouse passage. That was where I first felt the castle – it is the place where one is most conscious of the great weight of stone above and around one. I was too young to know much of history and the past, for me the castle was one in a fairy tale; and the queer heavy coldness was so spell-like that clutched Rose hard.

Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle
Illustration by Tove Jansson, The Summer Book

|| Nancy’s opening talk on Joy at the Living Education retreat || White Pelicans at sunrise || watching a Kingfisher land on tree, then dive into lake for a catch || the joyful swooping, diving of fork-tailed Barn Swallows, over lake and over me when I’m lawn mowing, one my my most favorite summer joys of all! Their iridescent coloring is stunning || Art’s talk on joy and sorrow, the interweaving of Biblical truth, Charlotte Mason, the thoughts of Catherine of Siena, and Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans” together in a beautiful way || talking about hospitality with Brittany and a few other ladies || mozzarella, balsamic, and tomatoes sprinkled with basil || early morning meditations near lake and worship in teeny chapel || chapel windows, stained glass and unique way of opening ||

Forget-me-Nots and little bridge over stream ♥️

|| my son’s excitement as he shared what he had learned in Don’s Critical Thinking session || camping through a rain storm in our tent with my son, using my umbrella inside, memories || gifts from friends, healthy banana pumpkin walnut muffins, special flavored Scandinavian falk salt, new coffee mug, salsa, and a lovely photo of us, framed || listening to A Wrinkle in Time with my son as we drove to the retreat in Minnesota || Amber’s lovely thoughts on poetry, learning new-to-me poets to explore, Effie May Newsome and Gwendolyn Brooks || all the wonderful conversations I had over good food or near the lake, so encouraging || meeting three Instagram friends, IRL! So exciting! || forget-me-nots || driving through Mankato, MN home of Maud Hart Lovelace, inspiration for Deep Valley || new book titles to search and look forward to || lovely tote bag with bookmark, card, and journal gifted to attendees ||

What is bringing you joy? What are you thankful for? Lots of love, Amy 💕💕💕

Joy Journal: June 18th {Happy Birthday to me!}

Bits of joy…

♥️Dear Friends,

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!

I’m loving right now…

|| thinking this article on Iris Murdock || Lesley Austin’s blog, YouTube, and email newsletter || purging books and filling up 5 main Little Free Libraries on my driving routes || Cherry-flavored water by Clear American from Walmart || golden-lit afternoons, summer sun filtering through Honey Locust leaves and shining through my kids hair as they play || adoring the photography and poetry at Leaf & Twig, even the blog name is enchanting || reading in sunshine and wind ☀️🌬🌥

Gills…spore print coming up!

|| cozy lifestyle vlogs, Hyonyeo, cakes and cats in South Korea || popcorn and oatmeal cookie picnics while reading Prince Caspian under the tree|| lawn lounging days, my Mother’s Day hammock from a few years ago is getting a lot of use || our first bonfire, slowly burning up last years Christmas tree, my 3yo calling the sparks ‘fire birds’ ♥️|| Mary Azarian’s woodcut picture books || ponytails and rooster tails || swimming for the first time this summer ||

Lake and Dickens days…

|| reading short story Watter Mitty and then watching older version with Danny Kaye together- so silly and hilarious! We also love the newer Ben Stiller version of it, too. || SundryWords bookmarks || the haunting, new-to-me author, David Almond’s book, Skellig || TWO recent mail surprises {including a Moomin journal 😍} from a Texan friend, Kim, THANK YOU! || Rae of Sunlight’s back Booktube vlogs || making a summer bucket list with the kids ||

Summer is so lovely…
Tornado watches…gorgeous, angry sky…we had to go into the basement, but rain and high wind were the extent of it’s bite. Do you like storms or wild weather?
Summer snoozes, dirty, darling, little boy feet…
A friend gifted me peonies two summers ago…first bloom!

What’s bringing you joy? I’m so very blessed 🥹 and I just love recording it! ♥️📚♥️ Grace and peace to you, Amy

Joy Journal: May 26th, 2022

Tree frogs 🥰

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? I hope to start a new series here. Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!

Right now, I’m loving…

|| the Betsy, Tacy, and Tib series by Maud Hart Lovelace || “With You” sung by Jimin and Ha SungWoon – I actually reimagine this as a love song to Jesus ♥️ || “The Peace of Wild Things” collection by Wendell Berry || barn swallow watching || Seattle’s Best decaf – thanks to Booktube friend, Tiffany for this recommendation || searching for new-to-me mystery series ||Kate Howe’s Booktube || a new to me Booktube, A Day of Small Things || finding 100 Days of Dante podcast || starting L. M. Montgomery’s Selected Journals Volume 3 ||

|| Harney & Sons Paris tea, fruity Earl Grey || first peony bud on bush friend gave me two summer’s ago || Salt & Sound music || Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, anticipation for the sequel || bird and rabbit watching || rereading Little House series this summer with my younger children || endless cloud-filled skies || finding a math tutor for my son || Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People, who knew a tome like this could go down so smoothly? || contemplating reading some Moomins or another Tove Jansson book with friends || little boys in flannel button-downs || Schliech animal scenes perpetually in living room || Totoro socks from daughter || vignette series rattling around in brain || thinking back over favorite summer reads in years past, what are your favorites? || new fresh slate to start drawing upon for next homeschool year ||

Double-headed dandelion my daughter found 💛💛💛

What’s on your joy list?

Happy Friday, friends! Lots of love from Hearth Ridge, Amy 🌿♥️🌿

|| on clouds ||

|| endless clouds extend to the horizon line. slate grey, white tuffed, take-deep-breath marshmallows , chewy goodness. softness, a gentling, sunsplit glints of gold, the dresden of heaven’s hutch. clouds come down, bringing middle earth to midwest. pillows, puffs, earth and sky gooey s’more center, coolness, and shade. buckets of liquid love dipped and poured over earth’s open and waiting hands. what would i be without clouds? i’m not talking about the science behind the loss of clouds, i’m talking about fluff-on-the-wind deep soul loss. the loss of the wisp and whisper drawing our hearts and our eyes upward. clouds crowd the crevices of my heart and i want to be forever enveloped in a squishy embrace. bright white, somber grey, i take this popcorn of the sky, salted, anyway. a true friend to sail away on, summer shape finding, a friend to count on hovering close by. a field of fluff for soul and spirit encouragement harvesting. a bit of white lace for earth’s blue and green dress. freshness, light, love…clouds. ||

Monday Ponderings {January 31st}

Paper bag stars, sunsets, birds, and gingham. These are a few of my favorite January things…❄️♥️❄️♥️❄️

“I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.

C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

Back to Classics 2022 Ideas 📚♥️🌿✨

My Reading Journal ♥️♥️♥️

Hello All! Booktube has got my head spinning about reading plans and lists. I’m definitely a mood reader, but it’s fun to challenge myself a bit with some specific books or categories 🐈 . However, all of these reading lists are just for fun. If I don’t meet them, I’m totally fine. I’m definitely someone who’s ok with abandoning a plan. 🤪 Karen at Books and Chocolate blog has been doing this challenge for awhile and I’m excited to challenge myself with some books from my shelves. I’ve tentatively penciled them into my reading journal above. Some of these also fulfill Chantel’s Read My Bookshelf Challenge, too. Here’s my list!

1. A 19th Century Classic ~ The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy {changing to Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens}

2. A 20th Century Classic ~ Perelandra by C.S. Lewis (reread) {changing to Christy by Catherine Marshall- reread}

3. A Classic by a Woman ~ The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

4. A Classic in Translation ~ Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

5. A Classic by BIPOC Author ~ Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings by Olaudah Equiano

6. Mystery, Detective, Crime Classic ~ My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

7. A Classic Short Story Collection ~ 40 Short Stories of Anton Chekhov {changing to The Short Story: 25 Masterpieces edited by Ellen C. Wynn}

8. A Pre-1800 Classic ~ Cymbeline ~ by William Shakespeare

9. A Non-fiction Classic ~ Walden by Thoreau {changing to A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopoldo -reread}

10. Classic on Your TBR the Longest ~ TBD but probably a Charles Dickens or Larkrise to Candleford

11. A Classic Set in a Place I’d like to Visit ~ Romola by George Eliot {Florence, Italy}

12. Wild Card Classic ~ Notes from the Underground by Dostoyevsky

Some of my selections! 😍😳😄😂 And a few possible alternates -the Larkrise trilogy I may have had on my shelves longer than all my Dickens. This is VERY ambitious for me, but hey, as long as I keep it fun and DNF things if it gets stressful, it’ll be fine. I will be marking up/tagging each book and adding a quote or two to my reading journal. Have you read any of these? Any good ones? Duds? I’m mostly apprehensive about Wharton as she is depressing! Ha! 😜😅♥️ Happy Reading!

Gratitude & Glories {December 2021 Reflecting and A Bit of a 2022 Look Ahead}

Happy New Year! We are back to {home} school and I loved adding a quote from The Quiet Season by Jerry Apps to my nature journal. The sunrises and sunsets have been so gorgeous, cutting through the cold, real warmth for the heart. I tried to capture the bit of beauty I caught as we drove in the gloaming, ice and snow framing the glorious sky painting.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b1bd7-simple-woman-daybook-large.jpg

The Simple Woman’s Daybook

I’m Thinking… about anticipating all the meaningful moments ✨ to be gathered up into my jar of memories , all the wonderful books 📚 waiting to be enjoyed, and about how much I love the seasons ❄️💦🌿🍂, the different beauty each one brings.

I’m Thankful for… my fun reading journal setup this year, reading challenges, and writing ✍️ plans.

Reading Journal with Anne of Avonlea sticker!

One of My Favorite Things… Booktube! I’m in a couple of different reading challenges over there, at Oceana’s, Chantel’s, and I’m loving Emma’s account, sooo much, too! I’m also excited about this blogger’s challenge which I attempted a few times in past. You can also join me there on Booktube, but be forewarned I have a big learning curve with technology and editing ahead of me. 😂♥️😄

I’m Wearing… a lot of layers, slippers socks, and comfy core, as someone called it on Instagram!😂😃

Dressing for warmth and happiness!

I’m Watching… reading journal ideas and Booktube!

I’m Reading… SO many wonderful things I’ve started. I’m surprisingly enjoying my reread of Out of the Silent Planet by Lewis more than I thought I would.

Im Listening… to soundtracks and Salt of the Sound!

I’m Hoping… to continue our slower, deeper dive into our books we started back this week. It’s been sooo great, the conversations swirling around. It’s tempting to do allllll the things, but faithfully and steadily doing a few less things works better for us. I’m all about deeper dives this year.

I’m Learning…to pace myself, trust and rest with Jesus, and to be in Anticipation & Expectation of Him being with me this year! In fact, those are my words of 2022.

In the Homeschool Room… we are just getting back at it this week and it’s been exhausting, but oh, so good. Giving myself the permission to tweak as needed for all of our sanity and for rest. ❄️❄️❄️

Shared Quote…

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”

Lemony Snicket

Just some last parting shots of some of my reading journal set up pages! So fun and relaxing! How is your new year shaping up? May the Lord bless you and keep you! ♥️🌿♥️ Love from Hearth Ridge, Amy

Favorite Reads of 2021 ♥️🌿{Massive List: You’ve Been Warned}

Remembering our daily autumn tramps in a little woods on our property…♥️♥️♥️

Dear Fellow Page Turners and Word Drinkers 😄, it’s that time of the year to think about all the wonderful books I’ve read this past year and take on the impossible task of narrowing down my favs {failed miserably at the narrowing down part. Ha! }. 2021 was a FANTASTIC reading year for me! I was thrilled to read so many great books. Here is my post from my 2020 favorite reads and my categories that I wanted to focus on in 2021. I touched all of my categories EXCEPT I didn’t really finish any biographies. Once again, I listed categories below to help you, if you’d prefer to scroll to your favorite genre, instead of reading through my massive list. 😏♥️ I left Goodreads this year in spring with no regrets and have plans for a pretty analog reading journal, continuing what I started this year, because I loved it so much. I’m truly a paper gal. I blame Booktube, especially Chantel 😂😍, for so many great books! I read a lot more mystery this year and surprisingly, historical fiction. Curl up with your favorite hot drink and a pen and paper because happy toppling 2022 TBR, my friends! 😂😎♥️

Favorite Book of the Year 2021~

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly -5 stars!!!! This was just so lovely! A middle grade story about a little girl being shuffled around in the foster care system and an artist who is slowly declining due to Alzheimer’s disease. Deeper themes about belonging and being seen. This book just made me FEEL. It was so, so sad and lovely and REAL.

Poetry ~

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry – 5 stars! Some of Berry’s poetry is a little inaccessible to me unless I am in a certain mood with lots of patience. NOT THIS COLLECTION. This book and the Holy Bible got me through 2021, sane-ish. 😉 Ha!

Hilltop Verses and Prayers by Ralph Spaulding Cushman – 5 stars These are lovely, intimate poems, prayers, and Scriptures. I gave this as a gift recently. There is a second book also which I’m slowly savoring.

The Lost Spells by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris – 5 stars, breathtaking watercolor illustrations and gorgeous wordsmithing from MacFarlane. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Nonfiction/Memoir-

Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Diana Pavlov Glyer – 5 stars! This was just SO inspiring about how community is so important in our creative pursuits and in life. I was so inspired by this book, so two writing friends and I have started checking in on Voxer and spurring each other on. I’ve been also getting into more bookish community on Booktube. ❤

Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank C. Laubach – 5 stars! Fascinating and super lovely look at one man’s attempt at “practicing the presence of God” moment by moment in his daily life. Mr. Laubach was a literacy advocate in the Philippines and other countries.

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May – 4.5 stars This book articulated how I feel so very often! It was a beautifully written memoir of the author’s pressing INTO the dark times in her life instead of fighting them. This wasn’t from a Christian perspective, but it was so inspiring, reassuring, and I felt “seen”.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson – 5 stars! A mind-blowing book about personal responsibility. Even if you don’t agree with everything from Peterson, don’t miss this amazing book. Philosophy, religion, psychology, and so much more!

This Beautiful Truth: How God’s Goodness Breaks into Our Darkness by Sarah Clarkson 4.5 stars – this one was ALMOST my favorite of the year. I loved that I finally found a book that questions the scary idea that God is the creator of sin and horror in the world. This book is so beautiful in an unique way – the non-chronological time line in this memoir was my only complaint as sometimes we jumped about a bit, but I loved how Sarah shared her struggles with mental illness and her questions and deep things she was contemplating.

Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness by Esther de Waal – 4.5 stars, despite a few theological differences, this book was such a blessing to my prayer and gratitude life practices. Beautiful thoughts, quotes, Scripture, and glorious poetry on how really seeing and practicing gratitude ultimately turns our heart towards God. Highly recommend.

The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t, and Get Stuff Done by Kendra Adachi – 5 star read for me! I was so surprised by this as I don’t really like these types of books usually. I felt so freed and like I can tailor my home in the way that fits me. And yet, she does challenge and give tools on how to run what works and is important for you. I can’t wait to read her Kitchen Lazy Genius title next year, as I need major help in the kitchen. HA!

Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now by Greg Boyd – 5 stars, fantastic look at keeping God’s love in mind in the moment you are currently in! This book was life changing for me and so helpful about my thought life.

Kohila: The Shaping of an Indian Nurse by Amy Carmichael – 5 stars, one of the most convicting, beautiful reads for my faith and my job as a wife, mother, homeschooler, writer, woman, and friend. So beautiful! A bit rambly, but I took down pages of quotes that challenged me and inspired me in my Christian faith.

Lay of the Land by Dallas Lore Sharp – 5 stars, just lovely, intimate memoir with reflections on nature, life, with the author’s faith woven throughout.

Boundaries for Your Soul: How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies by Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller – 4 stars – such an interesting book and I especially found the chapters on guilt/worry/anxiety so helpful. I loved that this was from a Christian perspective and included a lot of Scripture.

Middle Grade & YA Fiction ~

Fog Magic by Julia Sauer – 5 stars, a short, haunting portal magic MG fantasy that I really enjoyed. The setting was LOVELY.

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt – 5 stars. WOW! Jane Eyre thread throughout, the Vietnam War, domestic abuse, and poignant observations on a young boy’s life. Schmidt did NOT disappoint in this companion to The Wednesday Wars.

Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – 5 stars! I LOVED this first in a fantasy/dragon series, but heard the second is not great, and the third never came out. So I just stopped here! If you like classic feel fantasy, this one was great.

Heart of Red, Blood of Blue by Rebecca Belliston – 5 stars! I heard about this one on Oceana’s Booktube channel and my oldest daughter and I loved it. Medieval-adventure-romance done SO well with great twists. Heads up, I did try a couple other of Belliston’s titles later and they weren’t for me, but this one was wonderful!

The Recorder by Cathy McCrumb – 5 stars! This is the first in a Sci-Fi Series called The Consortium. This was one of my anticipated reads from 2021 and it didn’t disappoint. So fascinating and I loved the characters! We follow a Recorder, a person raised from childhood to record history and observe life, or is she? She is thrown into a mission with a great bunch of characters and questions are asked about who she really is? Space, giant bugs, octopus-like robots and more.

Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer – 4 stars, I read all? of Meyer’s novels in 2021 and I really enjoyed this one. In the beginning, I found the story of the ancient gods on the side was more interesting to me than the main story. However, the last quarter of the book picked up, blending present and past well. I loved Wen, the shape shifting, and the cooperation between the two main characters. The whale was so clever, lots of strange, magical, unique details that made me feel. I loved the secret library/mansion/sea/cottage setting. Meyer is SO good at setting. I loved that Talia didn’t compromise her beliefs. Overall, a bit stream-of-conscious-along-for-the-ride type read, but so atmospheric, clean, and intriguing!

The Rivers Lead Home & Other Stories by Emily Hayse – 5 stars, haunting, sparse, adventure short stories that really inspired me. I really enjoy this Indie author!

Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – 5 stars, this YA historical fiction was full of intrigue, mystery, and light romance. I gave this as a Christmas gift to my 12 yo!

Of Salt & Shore by Annet Schaap – 5 stars, loved this story! I really grew to care for Lampie, the sweet lighthouse keeper’s daughter and the sad hardships she faced. This has a Beauty & the Beast, Little Mermaid, Jane Eyre, Secret Garden mashup vibe to it! A bit dark and creepy, definitely for older middle grade or YA.

The Brave by James Bird – 4.5 stars. I adored this book and loved the main character Collin. I loved the First Nation/Indigenous, magical realism bent to it which was so well done. I loved the creative and real feeling way this talked about disability, disease, and death. I DO NOT RECOMMEND this book for Middle Grade readers, however, as it included too many adult sexual type comments/situations and I don’t like that in books geared for 8-12 yos. I will be thinking about this one for awhile.

The Mirror Visitor Series by Christelle Dabos – 4 star series! This is a grand, magical, unique, mirror-traveling political type fantasy. It has an extremely slow-burn romance and huge cast of such FASCINATING characters. Pretty long, but it was a page turner for me! This was recently translated from French and I really loved this one. Overall, pretty clean, probably older YA/Adult.

The Breadwinner Series Books 1 & 2 by Deborah Ellis 5 stars – first two books in a heart-wrenching series about a family in war-torn Afghanistan. This is a MG series, but I’d definitely read it with my children or give it to older kids as it touches on sobering topics. I’m taking a break before reading the last two books as they are heavy. I noticed that there is a an animated movie that I want to check out.

Sweep by Jonathan Auxier – 5 star book! Oh my. SO sweet, creative, magical, and heart-wreching about the loss of a parent, belonging, friends, and so much more. I really loved learning more about children as chimney sweeps.

Incarceron & Sapphique by Catherine Fisher – 5 stars duology! Fantasy story about a fascinating living prison and finding the key to it! Creepy and mysterious. Wonderful, intriguing characters, great twists, and very clean. Great YA reads!

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud – 4.5 stars, SUCH A CREATIVE idea! Ghost hunting children who have an agency to take care of those pesky haunted houses. A little dark, but I enjoyed this first one.

Ignite the Sun by Hanna C. Howard – 4 star creative read of a girl who can harness the power of the sun! If you like elemental magic in fantasy stories, this one was great, and clean. The romance was a tiny bit cheesy, but overall this was great. I loved that it was a stand alone, so that we got all the great action and story in one go!

Adult Fiction ~

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka – 5 stars, disturbing historical fiction about the horrors surrounding a Japanese American mother and her children trying to psychologically and physically survive relocation to American interment camp during WWII. The writing was SO beautiful, sparse, sad, and so wonderfully expressed. The mental hoops that they had to jump through were so disturbing and how others ignored/excused mistreatment of a whole group of fellow human beings was so sobering and thought-provoking.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King – 4 stars – The first and third books in a LONG series surrounding “retired” Sherlock Holmes and his new sidekick, Mary Russell. I’ve read 4? in this series and there are some preachy/weird themes and I disliked the second book so much, but the writing is SUPERB and the idea so creative. I’m going to continue reading!

The Other Bennett Sister by Janice Hadlow – 5 stars, beautiful and sympathetic look at what happened to Mary Bennett. A MUST READ FOR JANE AUSTEN FANS!

Father Brown: The Essential Tales by G. K. Chesterton – 5 stars, unique and interesting mysteries solved by a quiet, observant priest. I was very pleasantly surprised by these!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford – 4.5 stars, another super interesting historical fiction inspired by a true story. An abandoned hotel basement full of Japanese American belongings found some decades later reveals the stories of so many lives disrupted due to the interment camps. Disturbing and so interesting, told through the eyes of a father and son relationship. Highly recommend!

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – 4 stars, another historical fiction for me! Wow! A disturbing, intense look at 4 evacuees from war torn Germany/Poland/Lithuanian who were headed to be taken on the ill-fated “rescue” boats. The horrors of war and ethnic cleansing atrocities were up and in your face. Trigger warning on this one, so scary, but SO well done. This was my first Sepetys and it won’t be my last.

The Secret of the Chimneys by Agatha Christie 5 stars – LOVED this stand alone from The Queen of Mystery. I’m finding her single stories without Poirot or Marple are some of my favorites. So hilarious!

The London House by Katherine Reay – 5 stars – I am not a huge historical fiction reader and especially not of WWII time period, but I ended up reading so many this year. Ha! However, I have enjoyed Reay’s books in the past, so I gave this one a try. It was AMAZING. I loved the story being told through letters, diaries, and memories. I found the history about dress designers, the Nazis, and Salvador Dali to be fascinating!

L.M. Montgomery ~

Along the Shore: Tales by the Sea – 4 stars for me. A lot of Montgomery’s stories are so sweet with happy endings, but these were grittier and dark. I really enjoyed them.

Emily Climbs x2 {reread} – 5 stars The second in the Emily Starr series and my favorite! So lovely about family, writing life tension, creativity, all with Montgomery’s swoon-worthy nature writing. One small thing that’s weird is an older male friend of Emily’s is a bit creepy, but I can forgive it, because the rest is lovely.

Jane of Lantern Hill {reread} – 5 stars! My handle Amy of Hearth Ridge is inspired by this book! I read this first after a hard pregnancy and a touch of PPD and it blessed my socks off. How simple loving and having someone to care for can be the most important thing to your life. How serving and giving end up blessing YOU in return.

After Many Days: Tales of Time Passed – 3.5 stars, short stories of “second chances” or “time past” – it had a slow start, but I appreciated the latter stories.

The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery: Volume 2 – 4 stars The first volume of Montgomery’s journals touched on her girlhood and this one gave such an interesting and dark perspective of a Canadian woman during WWI. Highly recommend!

Whew! 😅♥️ Of course, I read the Holy Bible and so enjoyed especially going through the New Testament, John in particular. Hopefully, you got a good recommendation or three that you anticipate! I’ll be back soon with my reading ideas for 2022!