mountains of spices
The Year in Books

#theyearinbooks No. 1: Mountains of Spices by Hannah Hurnard

The Plan

So I started a Goodreads account a few months ago to keep track of the books I’ve been reading (mostly on lunch breaks and weekends at home when husband is working), and recently had the idea to post book reviews here!  Also, I’ll be linking up with Laura over at Circle of Pine Trees with her #theyearinbooks (also on Instagram and Twitter. If you enjoy reading, please join!

Circle of Pine Trees


You know when you go into thrift stores, garage sales, book stores, or library sales and you buy BOXES of books?


restoring simple



Well, that’s happened to me several times, so I am going to attempt to read my own books this year. I set a goal for myself of 25 books for 2015. That’s not a huge amount at all. In fact, the average goal on the Goodreads website was in the 50s. BUT I’m all about being realistic (most days), and if I can read 2 books each month – I think I’ll be pretty happy with myself :)

I’m hoping to read a good variety of books this year: fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, spiritual growth, practical how-to, biographies..etc.

I will also be doing periodical book giveaways. Starting with today! See instructions below.

I’ll start with a book in the spiritual growth category that I recently finished called Mountains of Spices, by Hannah Hurnard (I think I technically finished in 2014, but I’m going to count it for this year).

mountains of spices


Ok. First off: I gave this book  3 stars, mainly because I feel the need to reserve 4 stars for an “absolutely excellent read”, and 5 stars for only a few books that exist, and I’m not quite sure if I’ve read them yet or not…


mountains of spices



I enjoyed this book (and the prequel: Hind Feet on High Places) because, honestly, I haven’t read the bible in awhile. And I am a person of faith, in the God of the bible. And yet, I haven’t been able to read that specific book in awhile for a lot of reasons, I’m sure I’ll get into them eventually here (maybe not), but for now just know that’s not happening a whole lot these days.

But because my soul is conditioned (pretty willingly, honestly) to crave intimacy with the God of the bible, I have found that so much of this can be depicted through fiction. My husband wholeheartedly disagrees with this (the fiction part), only because his brain has this intense need to see things EXACTLY as they are. No fluff. No fiction. No big deal (most days), I’ll just read my Harry Potter and watch my LOTR on my own time honey. ;)

These books by Hannah Hurnard have that allegorical story line that I crave these days.

The story starts in the book Hind Feet in High Places with Much-Afraid living in the midst of a depressing situation with little hope about life at all. The Shepherd (bet you can’t guess who that’s supposed to depict?) comes and asks if she wants to go to the High Places with him, but that it’s a super hard journey. She accepts and off they go (after some delays). Along the way up to the “high places” she encounters all kinds of realistic (in an allegorical sense) troubles that you encounter if you choose a life of faith (or honestly, even if you don’t).

She makes it to the top, he heals her (oh she’s also got a deformed mouth and lame feet) and everything seems to go pretty well for this chick after that. Which is where I tend to start squinting my eyes a bit and frowning internally. Really? No troubles? You never doubt that Shepherd again? #unrealisticexpectations

In the sequel, Mountains of Spices, she is back down in the Valley living with her community experiencing life change after life change of her sad relatives. And in between each encounter with the relatives, the shepherd takes her back up to 9 mountains (representing the fruits of the spirit) and teaches her about life. I found myself skipping ahead to the chapters that focused on her messed up relatives: because I related so much with them! With names like Gloomy, Spiteful, Bitterness, Self-Pity, Umbrage, Resentment, and Moody I definitely felt like I fit in more with those folks some days.

Not that I want to, I sometimes just do.

But back to the book review…

I actually, believe it or not, enjoyed these books. Here’s a quote that touched me:

Do not fear the cutting knife, Do not shrink in pain, Let the red drops of thy life Fall like bleeding rain. That which thou to death dost give is the seed which shall live.

Do not fear the winter’s breath, Let the seed drop to the earth, Everything laid down to death Waits a resurrection birth. Let the flower drop, on the thorn Fairer glories shall be born.

Do not try to hold life’s joys, Or the past’s years golden store, Love it is Who thus destroys, To make room for so much more.Love it is, with radiant Face, Leading to a wealthier place.

Do not let self-pit bleed Bitterness, nor fierce regret. These are worms which kill the seed, And sad misery beget. With a willing heart let go, God will richer gifts bestow.

Learn the lesson fast or slow, This is Heaven’s Law, We must let the old things go, To make room for more. We shall reap in some glad way, Fairer joys than lost today.


Maybe I’ll just stop there and let you read it for yourself. Let me know if you do and what your thoughts are about Hannah Hurnard’s books.

If you are interested in winning a copy of Mountains of Spices – please leave a comment below sharing a couple of things that you are looking forward to in this next year! I’ll pick a random winner in the next few days :)  (This giveaway is open to US residents only)

Edit: this giveaway is now closed.

Thanks for reading!


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  • Reply Christina January 6, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Interesting read Hannah. I don’t think I’ll pick it up anytime soon but maybe one day the time is right. I loved to read your story and look forward to reading more. x

    • Reply RyanHannah January 6, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      I completely understand :) Thanks for your kind words

    • Reply Debra March 18, 2021 at 7:29 am

      Beautiful Hannah Hurnard, I can hardly wait to meet her one day… her allegory is beyond beautiful!

  • Reply leanne January 15, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Hey Hannah! What a great goal to read books this year! I’ll be happy if I can squeeze in 5! Hope all is well.

    • Reply RyanHannah January 16, 2015 at 9:49 am

      AH! I had no idea you blogged! That just made my day :) You are one BUSY lady – teacher, mama of three under 5 (!!!), wife, homesteader, cook, chicken herder…etc If I were in your boots – I’d be SUPER happy to get in 5 books! :) Miss you guys.

  • Reply Reginald Chislett Sr. [FACE-BOOK]... November 21, 2017 at 9:41 am

    I’m a Man…Who…”LOVES”……Books….I’m a “THINKER” / “CREATIVE-WRITER”…I have ‘no’ Web-Site…A brilliant “Book” for Your Hubby…Is “THE-VANISHING-CONSCIENCE” BY JOHN MACARTHUR JR.




    REG SR

    • Reply RyanHannah November 21, 2017 at 11:24 am

      It’s a great book isn’t it? Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Debra Sparks March 18, 2021 at 7:32 am

    Hundreds of times I have bought this book and Mountains of Spices … I LOVE HANNAH. I have given away so many of her precious books … and read them in every season of my life since it was first published. Have always gotten something new from it …

  • Reply Beth November 9, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Have ever read any of George McDonalds books? The Wise Woman sometimes titled The Lost Princess, The Princess and Curdie, The Golden Key, Phantastes (CS Lewis cites this book as the baptism of his imagination) and Lilith are some of my favorites. He has several more fantasy works, and a bunch of novels (those take a few chapters to get into but are always worth the effort.)

    • Reply RyanHannah March 1, 2022 at 9:11 pm

      Well, I just placed a hold on Phantastes at my local library – so I’ll let you know!

    what are your thoughts?