for now the mountain burns

destruction, renewal -- a phoenix will be born
but for now the mountain burns
a jagged, blazing spine against the hazy sky
wafting smoke up the valley
to settle densely on hopeful blooms and buds
and tiny, new green leaves that dance upon the trees
as the mountain cries out for rain,
the dry earth weeping tears of dust
and yet knowing, somewhere in its ancient depth of thought,
that the blackened remains of forest
symbolize not death
but the cleansing beginning
of a slow and beautiful rebirth

photo via


a pair of atypical westerns {mini reviews}

Valley of Dreams (Wild West Wind #1)
by Lauraine Snelling

Historical, western, romance-free, Christian novel -- sound too good to be true? It's not! Hooray! This wonderful book kept me engaged with good character development, realistic details, and refreshing unpredictability. I appreciated the fact that Cassie, despite going on an unexpected adventure, isn't an expert on survival in the wilderness. She did what she could and graciously accepted help when she needed it, showing a great willingness to learn, as well. Although I would have liked more development in the supporting characters, the story seems set up for more on them in the second book. Also, there is a bison named George.

4/5 leaves

True Grit
by Charles Portis

This is a fun spin on the standard western, with a young girl as the protagonist. Mattie is an interesting character -- calculating and stubborn -- and I enjoyed her perspective and voice. However, I didn't much care for the story, which centered on revenge.

3/5 leaves


rural life {mini reviews}

I read quite a few books in the past two months, and I still haven't posted all of the reviews! So here are a few, which, coincidentally, all share the theme of farms and rural life. The first is a YA, the second adult fiction, and the third nonfiction. None of them, sadly, involve dragons, although there are horses in the second one listed, so we will forgive that novel for its lack of flying reptiles. And I like farming, so there is that, too. Enjoy!

Holding Up the Earth
by Dianne E. Gray

This beautiful novel weaves together seamlessly the lives of five girls, belonging to very different generations, tied together by a farm and, more specifically, a meadow. Some of the gripping, emotional stories are told through letters or journals, which sometimes felt unrealistically detailed. But those details do add much-appreciated color. Hope, the main character, is very relatable, as are the other four girls, for that matter.

4/5 leaves

Riding Lessons
by Sara Gruen

I found the premise of this novel interesting -- a horse book with family issues and a dash of romance -- but for almost the entire novel, Annemarie, the main character, acts like an insufferable child. There are no moments (until the end) where she behaves like an adult, which makes her very difficult to relate to. All of her decisions were rash and irrational. By the end, though, she seems a decent human being, and I almost want to read the next book -- mostly to follow the supporting characters (Dan, Eva, Mutti...).

2/5 leaves

The Hills is Lonely
by Lillian Beckwith

This is a hilarious portrait of a small, quaint, Scottish island village in all of its quirkiness. I wonder how many of the stories really are true, and to what extent -- they were all just so funny! Unfortunately, the author seemed to lack much respect for the people who live in the village, as they're all portrayed as being rather backwards. And I could have done with a dose of seriousness now and again as well as some form of a plot.

3/5 leaves

Have you ever continued a series simply to follow the supporting characters? And what do you think -- does nonfiction require a plot?