Friday, January 17, 2020

Discussion 2 ~ Heidi Read-Along

Welcome to the second discussion for the Heidi read-along! If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can view the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we'll be discussing chapters 9-13 (part 1). If you've already read these chapters, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below or in your own post. (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Heidi read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up on the reading, you're welcome to check in when you're ready. :) We're happy to have you join us whenever you can!

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Heidi: Chapters 9-13

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*

"How do you do, Lady Gracious?"
"And why not!" said the grandmamma, laughing. "Is that what you say at home? Did you hear that in the Alps?"
"No; no one among us has that name," answered Heidi earnestly.
"Neither has anyone here," said the grandmamma, again laughing, and patted Heidi affectionately on the cheek. "It's no matter! In the nursery I am grandmamma, and you shall call me so."
  • "You see, the dear Lord is a good Father to us all! He always knows what is good for us, if we do not know it."
  • "Rushing into the corner and into the grandmother's lap, she seized her arm and her hands and snuggled up to her, and was unable to say anything more from delight."
  • "What a blessing you have brought me!" exclaimed the grandmother, when the rolls did not come to an end, but one kept following another. "But the greatest blessing is you yourself, child!"
  • "Now a red glow fell over the grass at her feet; she turned round; there—she had forgotten the splendor, and never had seen it in her dreams like this—the rocky peaks on Falknis flamed up to the sky, the broad snow field was all aglow, and rosy clouds were drifting high above. The grass all round on the Alm was golden; from all the heights it glimmered and gleamed down, and below, the far-reaching valley swam in a golden vapor. When Heidi stood in the midst of all this glory, bright tears of joy and rapture ran down her cheeks, and she had to fold her hands, and, looking up to heaven, thank the dear Lord aloud that He had brought her back home again."

General Impressions

What an interesting and ultimately happy section this was! I really enjoyed getting to meet Klara's grandmamma. I love that she was so welcoming and encouraging to Heidi, making her feel like she could be herself while also nudging her to learn and grow in her reading, faith, etc. I also love that Heidi finds joy in reading—while we still see that books and stories aren't a substitute for the real relationships and life Heidi craves.

Then there's the whole "haunted" bit, which was rather comical! It's funny how everyone was affected by the thought of a ghost...except for the little "ghost" herself. :)

I'm glad the doctor was able to diagnose Heidi's true ailment and help bring about her journey home. And it was very sweet the way Klara wanted to give to Heidi.

It's a little surprising that Sebastian was so quick to entrust Heidi's care to a stranger, but I guess "all's well that ends well," so at least she made it up the mountain safely. And what touching scenes when she returns to the grandmother and Peter and her grandfather! I love her reunion with the grandmother, how full of love and joy it is, and I love how her grandfather was still his gruff self but obviously happy to have his Heidi back, the same humble and playful girl in essence as she'd been. Hugging the goats, resting peacefully in her cozy hay bed—such sweet scenes!

I'm really glad Heidi is back with those she loves. Now it will be interesting to see how life might change on the mountain and if there will be any mention of or reunion with the people she'd come to know in Frankfurt.

I love the descriptions of alpenglow in this book!
Here's a post I wrote about an alpenglow experience in Montana.

Discussion Questions

Answer any or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post.

1. What struck you most from the grandmamma's (Frau Sesemann's) interactions with Heidi?

2. Do you think Heidi could have learned to thrive in the Sesemann house over time, or do you think she truly needed to go back to the Alm in order to be healthy and happy again?

3. What was your favorite part about Heidi's return home?

Join us next Friday for our third discussion! 
(Part 1: Chapter 14 and Part 2: Chapters 1-4)

*Johanna Spyri, Heidi, trans. Helen B. Dole (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1945), 118-119, 131, 162, 163, 165.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Discussion 1 ~ Heidi Read-Along

Welcome to the first discussion of the Heidi read-along! If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can view the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we'll be discussing chapters 1-8. If you've already read these chapters, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below or in your own post. (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Heidi read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up on the reading, you're welcome to check in when you're ready. :) We're happy to have you join us whenever you can!

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Heidi: Chapters 1-8

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*
  • "The sun does it. When he says good night to the mountains, he sends to them his most beautiful rays so that they may not forget him until he comes back again in the morning."
  • "More attractive than all else to Heidi on such windy days was the roaring and rushing in the three old fir trees behind the hut. Wherever she happened to be, she had to run to them every little while, for nothing was so fascinating and wonderful as this deep, mysterious sound up in the treetops."
  • "After many long years a joy had come into the blind grandmother's dreary life, and her days were no more long and dark; for now she always had something pleasant to look forward to."
  • "Sebastian was standing outside the door and had to stop laughing before he could enter the room again. While he was serving Heidi, he had noticed a little cat's head peeping out of her pocket, and when it began to meow he could hardly contain himself long enough to set his tray on the table." 

General Impressions

I think I'm finding this story to be so much sweeter and more engaging than I might have expected! Heidi's character is adorable and difficult to resist, almost with an Anne of Green Gables quality to her given a description like this: "Heidi was never unhappy, for she always found something about her to enjoy" (page 42 in my copy). She finds so much pleasure in nature and the goats and discovering new things and watching her grandfather work and in simple conversations with an older woman. Even when she ends up in completely foreign-to-her situations, she is quite resilient and brave and quick to find something to delight in.

It's surprising how young she is in these chapters. It's hard to imagine a five-year-old climbing up a mountainside! But her innocence is so sweet.

I love how her grandfather is quick to take to her and praise her, and how he watches out for her even while letting her play and grow in independence.

I'm a little uncertain still about Peter. I like him, but he also has a selfish streak (which, given his youth and circumstances, isn't surprising!). Still, I enjoyed seeing his friendship with Heidi and her grandfather bloom.

I love Peter's grandmother and the way she revels in Heidi's visits and defends her grandfather. It's so, so sad when Heidi is forced to leave... Ugh, Aunt Dete! Driven by guilt and duty, I suppose, but if only she actually loved Heidi. I hate that she gives Heidi away, then takes her away again when she sees fit, basically deceiving the poor little girl. :(

As for Heidi's new situation as companion to Klara, I'm torn. I'm glad Heidi has new friends like Klara and Sebastian. Sebastian is pretty awesome, haha! I loved when he paid the boy from the street to play his organ for the girls and cause a scene. And the way he takes care of the kittens and saves Heidi's hat from being thrown away—yep, I like him! But I'm also sad for Heidi, being so young and feeling homesick and trapped.

I'm curious to see where the next chapters take Heidi...

A snowy illustration seems fitting for this season!

Discussion Questions

Answer any or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post.

1. Which character ended up surprising you most in these first eight chapters?

2. Do you think you would enjoy living the way Heidi's grandfather does? What would you like or dislike about that kind of life and home?

3. Which scene have you found most touching so far? Most amusing?

Join us next Friday for our second discussion! 
(Chapters 9-13)

*Johanna Spyri, Heidi, trans. Helen B. Dole (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1945), 40, 42, 55, 94-95.

Friday, December 27, 2019

New Year, New Read-Along: Let's Read and Discuss Heidi Together!

Just a few more days until the start of 2020! Happy (almost) New Year, everyone!

If you're looking for a classic to read/re-read to kick off the new year, or if you simply want to discuss an old favorite with friends, I'd love to have you join the Heidi read-along. :)

Here are the details...
  • The read-along will start Wednesday, January 1, and end Friday, January 31.
  • We'll read 1 chapter per weekday for a total of 23 chapters. (You can use the weekends to catch up or get ahead if you'd like!)  
  • Discussions will take place here on Fridays (January 10, 17, 24, 31) for a total of 4 discussions.
  • I'll provide ideas and questions, and you can take part through commenting on the discussion posts here or creating your own blog posts!
Here are some examples of past read-alongs I've hosted: Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Sense & Sensibility, The Silver Chair, Emily of New Moon, Christy.

I want to say this will be my first time reading Heidi by Johanna Spyri...and I'm looking forward to finally enjoying the beautiful copy featured in the read-along button above. It was a Christmas gift given to me in 1998 by a very sweet lady from my grandparents' church, and she wrote a kind note inside letting me know that the book was once a prize from a spelling contest in 1955, and she hoped I would enjoy the story like she did. ♥

Do you have a long-cherished copy of the book or special memories from reading it as a child? Please do share in the comments section—and let me know if you'll be participating in the read-along too! (Feel free to use the image in this post and share it on your blog or social media if you'd like to announce your participation!)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Gift of Books: Ordered, In the Stocking, and Under the Tree

Hello again, friends! It is probably no surprise that I get excited about books. ;) So, like an eager little child, I just wanted to share about these ones I got for Christmas this year!

My aunt and uncle kindly sent Josh and me a gift card, and we really enjoyed picking out books to buy—one for him, one for me, and a children's book to add to our collection for our little girl on the way. :) Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes was my pick! I've posted about one of her novellas before. She's a great author, and I've heard wonderful things about this book. Between the author and the reviews and the Maine setting and the gorgeous cover, this one seemed like the right choice!

Josh and I have fun stuffing stockings for each other, picking out little gifts and treats—and you can see my sweet stash from Josh in the picture! I confess I "helped" him pick out the book. ;) And after seeing Rissi's review, I was especially excited to receive My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff. Should be fun! (And I also can't wait to enjoy those candies!)

The Language of Souls by Lena Goldfinch was a gift from my parents, one that I had on my list. Not that I haven't read it was actually the book that introduced me to Lena's delightful work! But I had first read it as an ebook, and now that Lena has updated the cover (so beautiful, right??) and added an epilogue (so sweet!), I loved the thought of finally adding it to my shelf. Yay!

Another gift from my parents! Entertaining with Disney by Amy Croushorn caught my eye online, and I had so much fun looking through it yesterday. While I'm not sure when or if I'd be able to actually host a party like the kind this book presents, I'd love to try some of the recipes (cupcakes, cookies, gumbo...lots of neat options)—and the pages are really beautiful for viewing and dreaming!

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What about you? I'd love to hear about any new books you got for Christmas or ones you're excited to borrow/buy/read in 2020! 

Literary Christmas: More Festive Reads

A Literary Christmas: Reading Challenge //

Hope you all had a wonderful and merry Christmas yesterday! Today I wanted to catch up on posting for the Literary Christmas challenge (hosted by In the Bookcase). This month I re-read a couple books, which were both on my list for the challenge, and I also read a book that—while not specifically Christmas-y—takes place mostly in December and the holiday season. :)

A Cliché Christmas by Nicole Deese

Learn more about the book on Amazon.

I believe the first time I read this was in Kindle ebook format, so it was neat to be able to read and enjoy the print copy from my shelf this time around! This is a great romance with plenty of bantering, misunderstanding, engaging scenes, and a sweet amount of depth. It's a case of the heroine falling in love once again with an old flame and her old hometown, but with new hopes and an expanded heart. I'm glad to have this on my shelf and think I'd like to revisit it again some future holiday season. 

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The Case of the Crafty Christmas Crooks by Cindy Vincent

Learn more about the book on the author's website.

It was great fun to revisit this story simply as a reader (whereas the first time around I was viewing it as an editor)! The characters are so cute, and the book is full of Christmas heart and cheer. One of the cats learns all about Christmas for the first time, and it's so sweet to see the season afresh through his eyes. I finished re-reading this the night of Christmas Eve, which was a great way to end the day, as the book's conclusion is full of love and generosity. :)

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Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate

Learn more about the book on the author's website.

This book has been on my shelf for a bit, and this month I picked it up to give it a try. It's definitely fitting to read in December, as most of the book takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas (although it continues on into spring). It's not a fast or terribly exciting read, but I'm heading into a similar season of life as the one the heroine experiences (with her first child), and I found the characters' dilemmas and life lessons and interactions compelling. The Christmas elements add a sweet touch, from community events to the family's preparations and celebration. I don't necessarily feel a huge urge to read the rest of the series, but overall I enjoyed this one, and perhaps I'll want to read it again sometime.

(You can see the series order HERE. Tending Roses is book 1.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Return to the White Island: Firetrap Cover Reveal!

It's two weeks till Christmas, and here's an early gift for fans of young-adult fantasy and the awesome Phantom Island series by Krissi Dallas: a cover reveal for the much-anticipated fifth installment!!

Every now and then you might see me gush about these books on this blog, but you can find my full reviews on The Borrowed Book blog:
After years of suspense, it's thrilling to share the title, cover, and description for book 5...

My Thoughts

Okay, the cover designer (Kristen McGregor of Astrea Creative) did a fantastic job of continuing the look of this series in an epic way! This cover definitely shouts, "The Phantom Island series is back and bigger than ever! Boom!" The rich colors and active symbolism hold lots of promise, and I love how the text and main illustration go from silver to gold (which suggests that this book won't be broken up into two, I believe, as the first two elements were? But I'm not 100% certain about that. Either way, it's very clever and looks great!). I just love the design of this whole series. ♥

About the Book

A year has passed, but the Island hasn't forgotten...

As Whitnee Terradora stands on the cusp of her eighteenth birthday, all she can think about is getting through graduation without tripping, boarding that cruise ship, and finally, for crying out loud, snagging her first real kiss with Caleb. Forget that she still hasn't decided where to go to college and that the future intimidates her more than she will admit.

It's the eve of the Guardianship Festival, and all Gabriel can focus on is getting through the next five days of tribal blessing rituals across the Island, making an historically powerful speech at the opening ceremony, and successfully avoiding any more assassination threats. His determination remains intact even when he is unexpectedly separated from Eden, his personal advisor and confidante. Surely he can handle leadership of the festivities without her.

But the Island has a different plan. And neither Whitnee nor Gabriel is prepared for—or happy about—the moment their two worlds collide again. Prophecies unravel, friendships are challenged, and attraction ignites as the dark underbelly of the Island reveals itself in this long-awaited fifth installment of the Phantom Island series. For more updates, visit

About the Author

Krissi Dallas loves pop music, mismatched socks, and fried chicken. She lives in Texas with her husband, two strong-willed boys, and two grumpy old Yorkies. She enjoys hanging out with her family and friends, educating her junior high prep school students, and serving in her church and community. The rest of her time is given to daydreams and writing.

Connect with Krissi: 

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Note from the Author

The Phantom Island series includes Windchaser, Windfall, Watercrossing, and Watermark—all of which are available and would make fun Christmas gifts! [Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Author's Shoppe] The fifth book, Firetrap, releases in 2020. Stay tuned at for updates.

You can read the first chapter of Firetrap HERE

WARNING: The first chapter contains spoilers for the first four books in the series!

Monday, December 9, 2019

A Fast Read Full of Warmth and Charm | Dear Author (Nonfiction) Blog Tour


About the Book

Think your words might not matter? Think again. Words have the power to change lives, especially when they are used to create meaningful stories. In this collection of letters, bookish fangirl Laura A. Grace addresses topics related to every writer’s journey. From “character conversations,” to embracing one’s unique writing style, to celebrating a release day—there is a letter for every author no matter where they may be in sharing their story with others. 

Dear Author includes six illustrations by Hannah S.J. Williams.


My Review

Specifically encouraging to fantasy fiction authors but surely able to bring a smile to all authors and readers alike, Dear Author is a sweet little read that celebrates the writing and publication journey. I love the format of this book, the quick letters that are full of enthusiasm and gratitude. Authors can read them all together for a big morale boost or go straight to the letter that speaks to their current joy or struggle—like a book birthday or a delayed publication date or the bittersweet conclusion to their series. And fellow avid readers/fangirls will find a kindred spirit in Laura and plenty to relate to in these thoughts!

Basically, this book is full of warmth and charm, written with a voice that speaks to its author's unique personality and interests while still capturing general reader feelings. And the handful of illustrations are so adorable, with a little unicorn "Easter egg" in each one. Dear Author is a fast, happy read and a delightful "ode" to the work of novelists.

*With thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

About the Author

Laura A. Grace had a lifelong dream of getting to know authors behind the covers of her favorite reads. Little did she know that one day she would become an author too! Now an avid book blogger at Unicorn Quester and writer of clean, Christian manga, Laura creatively balances her passions of supporting indie authors and feeding her readers new stories. In between, she wields plastic lightsabers with her children and binge-watches anime with her husband. Join her quest to find wandering unicorns for your favorite authors at!


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 2nd
Tuesday, December 3rd
Wednesday, December 4th
Thursday, December 5th
Friday, December 6th
Saturday, December 7th
Monday, December 9th
Tuesday, December 10th
Wednesday, December 11th
  • Video Book Review: Janeen Ippolito
  • Book Review & Guest Post “Embrace Your Inner Fangirl: Three Easy Ways to Support Authors (That Don’t Require Reviewing or Purchasing Books)”: Wounded but Hopeful
Thursday, December 12th
Friday, December 13th
Saturday, December 14th