Favorite Reads {4th Quarter 2022} 🐈❄️☕️🫖📚📬

Currently, dipping into a lot of Christian non-fiction…

Hello, friends! Hope this bookish update finds you well. We’ve had a bout of illness in our family, but thankfully, we’ve been able to cuddle up and hunker down a bit. I had a great 2022 4th reading quarter, starting in October with a readalong on Booktube called Victober. It’s focusing on reading Victorian literature and I so enjoyed the relationship between the father and daughter and the internal workings of the Church of England in The Warden by Anthony Trollope. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell was a lovely group of characters trying to make their way as mill workers and masters in the harsh industrial climate of north England. A murder and false accusations bring the class tensions to the forefront. Gaskell is quickly becoming a favorite author! I extended my Victorian reading into November where I read Man & Wife by Wilkie Collins, a sensationalist novel with murder and bittersweet moments. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the characters and story as I haven’t finished any other Collins book.

Poetry ♥️

November brought a fantasy duo-logy with hints of the 12 Dancing Princesses, sparkling intrigue, Arabian nights, pirates, and fairyland. I wasn’t sure I would like Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier, but I really did! Being pulled away into these worlds was fascinating and I loved the character growth. These were intense, but YA so not as dark as her adult fiction. Marillier is a beautiful writer. I also reread a favorite fantasy A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos with an online friend and this political thriller in a fantastical world was so fun to return too! I really enjoy Ophelia, the main protagonist and her animated scarf. She is betrothed to a stranger and on her way to his polar land and there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of this political matchup. I rounded out the month with sweet classic children’s stories, Family Sabbatical by Carol Ryrie Brink and Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. These both were so lovely and heartwarming. Brink sends a family of five on a research trip to France and they have so many delightful adventures. Ibbotson wrote the Amazon River area so beautifully and her nature writing really brought the story to life.

December’s reading was wonderful with the British family story, High Rising by Angela Thirkell making me laugh. An widowed author and her son and village’s highjinks. I also loved listening to The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, read and performed by Richard Armitage while I held a sick little boy. It was heartwarming and inspiring. Braddon is a new-to-me Victorian author and I can’t wait to try more of her. I read a novella?/ short story by Emily Hayse called Yours, Constance, and I’m still thinking on this one. The setting was a glittery 1920’s party scene. We are in the head of Constance, a wealthy, cynical young woman who has recently lost her sister. The glitz and the glam don’t fool her, but something strange is happening in the crowd she runs with. This has a supernatural element and is very fast paced, but you quickly grow to appreciate Constance and understand the internal tensions she’s going through. Last but not least, I picked up the nonfiction Aggressively Happy by Joy Marie Clarkson and wow. This packed a powerful punch about how to live loved and to embrace all the seasons of our life in a meaningful way. These were my favorites from the fourth quarter of the year, what were yours? I’ll be back soon hopefully with my favorites of 2022!

||on my mind||

•flamboyant feet•carhartt clavicles•winged words•living loved•grave gratefulness•pilgrimage path•long lingering•dirt death•soul soup•nourishing newness•single step•ugliness underneath•deep drought•creator’s creation•ravenous ravens•sojourner’s song•brewed breath•crushed comfort•yeasty yearning•hearth hopes•flowers first•purifying poetry•charcoal clinging•silhouetted self•death depth•wayfaring woman•soaked seed•milled manure•winnowed wine•loamy light•cruciform crush•affection advent• “speaking silence”*•indigo image•skeletal skies•seafarer’s seasons•pride pestle•ground grain•peeled pear•juiced joy•

Some of my inspiration:

RM’s song “Wildflower”*, the ritual and smell of grinding coffee, reading Joy Clarkson’s Aggressively Happy, watching a murder of crows in a stubbled corn field, reading Live No Lies by John Mark Comer, the new year approaching, and rereading The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp.

Joy Journal {December 28th}

•wee flicker of little candle ‘Christmas at the Burrow’• the warmth and deepness of freshly ground and French-pressed black coffee in Christmas mug•the glimmer of light off the gingerbread men salt & pepper shaker•little, snowy glass cottage trinket•reading Beauty Chasers with Annie, chapter by chapter, discussion•Sophie racing around the house, her orange-y tail twitch, her sweet whiskers, her ‘cat-ti-tude’•the glow of the old-fashioned Christmas tree lights • Ella’s Christmas spirit and excitement• a juicy, sweet pineapple• Gideon’s love of baths•Schielch animal dioramas everywhere• a friend talking books with me• zoom reading nights with online kindred spirits •Peanuts postage stamps from dad•rubbing coconut oil into little chapped hand•dipping deliciously into aggressively happy by Joy Marie Clarkson•finding swirls, sparkles, and wind sighs in the coldest time of the year•

The work of humanity is to see one another safely home. ♥️

Penelope Wilcock

Happiest 2nd Day of Christmas 🎄 ~ Monday Ponderings {December 26th}

BLESSED are those who die for GOD

And earn the Martyr’s crown of light;

Yet he who lives for GOD may be

A greater Conqueror in His sight.

A.Proctor, The Cloud of Witness

Merriest and Happiness Christmas! ♥️❄️♥️❄️♥️

Peace isn’t a place – it’s a Person. Peace isn’t a place to arrive at, but a Person to abide in. “I myself am your peace,” says Jesus. ♥️

Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way

Advent Ramblings & Rumination ♥️🎄♥️

I confess that I’ve had to internally fight to keep my heart calm ♥️ and in the moment this Advent season. This past year has been a good struggle for me. This coming to the end of my strength, coming to the end of self, I find of course, Jesus calmly standing beside me, loving me. ♥️♥️♥️ I picked the words “anticipation & expectation” for 2022 and wow 😯 that didn’t play out how I thought it would. 😎😂 But slowly reflecting in this Advent season, I’m seeing what a gift this year has been. I didn’t realize that what I was anticipating and expecting was something very different than what needed working, kneading in, and cutting away from my heart. 🥹♥️ God is SO faithful.

How are you? How are you holding up? What are some things you’ve been thinking on, learning from 2022? ♥️ I still not perfectly clear on what I’m to pull away from my struggles this year, but some things have bubbled to the surface and I’m slowly working on acknowledging them, trying to reorder affections that are wonky, and really focus on what is important in my life. I’m praying about my words for 2023 and what things I need to focus on through good habits, focused attention, and quiet listening. Listening to the still, small voice of Jesus and deep, attentive listening to the people in my life. And listening to the whisper of words on the wind, wrangling them into inky encouragement on paper.

My personality and lifestyle needs a healthy balance of habits & structure with a good dose of freedom and openness. It makes for an uniquely delicate dance, keeping a rhythm flowing, yet being open to being human, room for life, creativity, and laughter. Do you struggle finding the right pace for the journey of life, too? Praying for clarity and for faithfulness as we cross over into the new year.

May you have a blessed last few Advent moments and a wonderful Christmastime! 🎄 May God give you fresh vision as you look to the new year! Happiest Christmas! ♥️♥️♥️ Love, Amy

Monday Ponderings {December 5th}

…Our bartered, busy lives burn dim,

too tired to care, too numb to feel.

Come, shine upon our shadowed world:

Your radiance bathes with power to heal.

excerpt from “O Radiant Christ” by Ruth Duck, from Biola Advent Project

Writer’s Web: Catching Inspiration from Women Writer’s of Charming Family-ish Fiction 🕯📖📜🖊♥️

Betsy and Tacy’s replica bench from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy Tacy Series. Mankato, MN ♥️📖

I’ve been thinking about the stories that inspire me and of course, the writer’s behind those stories. I was so excited to recently visit Mankato, Minnesota (Deep Valley in the stories!) and stop at many of the places mentioned in Maud Hart Lovelace’s semi-autobiographical series of children’s stories. Oh, the delicious delight and wonder of seeing the places Betsy (Maud) and her friend Tacy (Frances) haunted and thinking on how Maud captured the specific, odd, charming details that make her stories ring true. It made me think of all the other authors that write these types of stories and how much they inspire me!

One of these lovely kindred souls being Carol Ryrie Brink, an American author, with lovely family stories that warm my heart, so far my favorite being Winter Cottage, a story set in the Great Depression era in Wisconsin, a widower and his children making the best of very hard circumstances. Family Grandstand being a cherished read aloud in our family of an university professor, writer mother, and three kids in a rambling house with a turret and all their adventures. I’ve finally began the sequel, Family Sabbatical with some Booktube friends and the first chapter was SO delightful. Brink, of course, is most famous for her story inspired by her grandmother’s life, Caddie Woodlawn.

An English author that I’ve recently been stalking and been so inspired by is Noel Streitfeild. I first heard of her from one of my favorite films “You’ve Got Mail” in which Kathleen Kelly talks about “the shoe books”. Come to think of it now, Kathleen also talks of Betsy Tacy books in her bookshop and sells some to Joe Fox’s aunt! 😉😄♥️ Streitfeild is wonderful at putting children and families into unique, slightly strange settings and situations. I absolutely was riveted by her story The Magic Summer, about children dumped on an eccentric aunt in the barren Scottish? countryside. Family Shoes (The Bell Family) was delightful as the children tried to help their poor vicar father and mother with money in hilarious ways. There are so many more to explore and I’m currently loving Apple Bough (Traveling Shoes).

Elizabeth Enright is one that I started reading with my older children years ago with her delightful book The Saturdays, but I was reintroduced to her this past summer by my favorite Booktuber, Kate Howe, who also revived my interest in Maud Hart Lovelace. I adored Gone-Away Lake and can’t wait to read the sequel. The nature writing interwoven into this book won my heart.

And of course, one cannot talk about inspiration without mentioning my lovely and favorite Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. The magic of nature, the spiritual edge hovering over life, and quirky characters are just a few reasons I love this writer SO much. Yes, her stories can be a bit formulaic, but oh, the delicious details she packs into them. The Anne series, The Blue Castle, Jane of Lantern Hill, and Emily Climbs are my favorites at the moment, maybe if all time? I was so blessed to travel to P.E.I. for my 15th anniversary with my husband to soak up some island inspiration.

Laura Ingalls Wilder also comes to mind. I’m currently rereading through her famous series with my younger children and Almanzo’s story in Farmer Boy is just as compelling as it was the first time I read it. The hard, brutal life that early Americans lived is so inspiring for our modern lives. The family dynamics are so intriguing to us. I still want to retrace the Ingall’s path out west which we did as a smaller family years ago. We loved especially wading in Plum Creek. 🥰🌿

Gothic-y-feeling, trickling waterfall near Maud Hart Lovelace’s home.

No list of inspiring women writer’s would be complete with another favorite, the English writer, Elizabeth Goudge. Her magical writing in legend and lore of place, her deep, interesting, nuanced characters, her pulling back the veil between spiritual and reality, make her SO beloved. She definitely is a bit more of a dense writer, you have to work hard at her stories, especially beginnings, but persevere, because oh my, you will be richly rewarded. I’ve read most of her backlist, currently my favorites are A City of Bells, Pilgrim’s Inn, Dean’s Watch, and maybe Gentian Hill is creeping up there, too. Her children’s story, Little White Horse is delightful, too.

Train station where Betsy (Maud) traveled to Milwaukee to see her friend!

And of course, Miss Jane Austen, is a must have for this list. Her books are such an interesting study of character and the inner works of Regency era English families. Romance takes over the films, but the books are something else entirely. My favorites are Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. Although, I reread Mansfield Park this summer and so enjoyed it!

How about you? What authors highly inspire your work? Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list for me, Bradbury, Tolkien, Lewis, and others come to mind, but one of my favorite things to read and write is family and children ! And I think these ladies get it oh, so right! Have you done literary travel? Any inspiring places you recommend or you want to visit? I’ve also been to England, but would love to go back, especially to Oxford. Please chat with me in the comments! 📖♥️🖊📚

“The desire to give”: poem & Ansel Adams intertwine…

::where does this pathway go?::

“Beauty Glut” by A.M.Pine

Beauty glut, beauty bright

maybe I’ll crack open

and my seams

will spill out

a little light

cause I can’t

hold this all

sieve myself

rend myself

funnel

channel

squeeze myself

fill up

spill out

faucet

spigot

shower

keep the beauty

flowing

conduit

current

carry

receiving

repackage & repurpose

from me to you

from you to me

from Him to us

from us to Him

blood & beauty spilled

nail holes & hoarding hurts

beauty & blood spurts

gasping

glut groaning gifts

growing gains

beauty born

give & it shall be given

“Art is both love and friendship and understanding: the desire to give. It is not charity, which is the giving of things. It is more than kindness, which is the giving of self. It is both the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the interrelations of these.”

Ansel Adams, p.37 Ansel Adams: An Autobiography, emphasis mine