Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Born on February 07, 1812.
Died on June 9, 1870.

Focus On the Family Great Stories (Abridged), 104 pages. Published on September 23, 1999 by Bethany House Publishers.

[Review] Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

Publisher and Publication Date: Harper Muse. October 19, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 320.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction with references to Christ Jesus, and with a big emphasis on C. S. Lewis.
Rating: Excellent.

Link for the book @ Harper Muse.

Link @ Amazon.

Link @ Barnes and Noble.

Website for Patti Callahan. Pinterest/ Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter/ Goodreads author page.


England. 1950.

Megs Devonshire is a physics student at Somerville College, Oxford University. She has one sibling, George Henry Devonshire. George is 8. He has a heart condition. Most of the time he is in his bed resting. His devoted parents tenderly care for him. Megs comes home on the weekends to spend time with George. George has been reading a book titled, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.
George asks Megs where Narnia came from. Is it real? He asks her if she has seen, C. S Lewis, the man who wrote the book. Megs begins to investigate his questions by asking Mr. Lewis himself. She takes notes on their talks. When she visits George, she reveals Mr. Lewis’s story.

Once Upon a Wardrobe is a heart-warming and tender story about love. It is not a romantic love, but the love, devotion, compassion, commitment for a family member. It is love displayed in action.

Once Upon a Wardrobe is also a historical fiction/bio of C. S. Lewis’s life.

My Thoughts:

First, this is the last book I will review in 2021. I plan to take a break for the holidays and my upcoming knee surgery on the 28th. I will return sometime in January with more reviews!

I adore, Once Upon a Wardrobe! I didn’t cry while reading it, but my heart certainly melted under the tenderness and compassion and commitment Megs has for George. I love this story!

Reasons why I love this story:

1. The vivid descriptions, tone, and dialogue, which is often warm and intimate, drew me into the story and created a vivid story.

2. I love the memorable and quotable words.
For example:
“There is a difference between imagination and reason.” Page 28.
“…companionable silence….” Page 63.
“‘Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure for all human ills.'” Page 51. “Maybe…maybe Narnia also began when Mr. Lewis sat quietly and paid attention to his heart’s voice. Maybe we are each and every one of us born with our own stories, and we must decide how to tell those stories with our own life, or in a book.” Pages 259-260.

3. I love books written by C. S. Lewis. He is one of my favorite writers. I’ve read 4 of his books this year. Even in a historical fiction book that has C. S. Lewis as a character, I love it! I didn’t know until a closing chapter; his stepson wrote a closing chapter in the book. It is rare for a family member to endorse and include a chapter in a historical fiction book about their relative.

4. I’ve expressed in reviews recently how I’d love to read books with other types of love. This book is the answer. Romantic love is fine, but not always lasting. The love Megs has for her brother is lasting. It is real. It is memorable.

5. Once Upon a Wardrobe is a kind and uncomplicated story. It is a story ripe for this era of annoying viruses, inflation, busyness, and other pesky annoyances.

6. I’ve known, and know, other young children who have serious illnesses. They are often mature beyond their years. They pick up on things and have time to ponder those things those healthier children do not.
George is a perfect example and real character. The story centers on him. If he were not a part of the story it would fall flat. It would not be as memorable. George to me is like an angel. He is an important figure. He seems meek, slight, pale, translucent, yet there is power in his words. He has a message to bring. Lessons are learned through him. He is unforgettable.

7. A reference is made in the last part of the book and from C. S. Lewis about Jesus Christ. This book is not a Christian book perse, but it certainly has the behavior of one.

8. There is a romantic theme in the book, but it develops later. It is not a theme that takes over the primary focus.

Themes in the story: love, family, compassion, kindness, charity, honor, loyalty, wisdom, beauty, dreams, grief, hope, gratitude, and circle of life.

Once Upon a Wardrobe is a perfect book to read during the holidays and winter. It is literally an escape from this world.

Merry Christmas to all my readers and a most Happy and Gracious New Year!

[Review] The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Publisher and Publication Date: Park Row Books. January 29, 2019. 
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 377.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Historical fiction readers especially those who read WWII stories.
Rating: Very good.

Link @ Amazon.

Link @ Barnes and Noble.

Pam Jenoff’s Goodreads/ website/ Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram.


February 1946. New York City, NY.

Grace Healey is late for work and cuts through Grand Central. She trips on an abandoned suitcase sticking out from underneath a bench. Out of curiosity, she opens the suitcase and finds the name of the owner. Inside she finds an envelope of photographs. They are of several women. Some of the women are in military uniforms. They are all young women. Grace begins working to put the puzzle together about all of the women. She must know who they are and what happened to them.

The second story is of the woman who was in charge of the young women. Her name is Eleanor. Her story begins in 1943, England.

The Lost Girls of Paris is the story of heroism and courage. Young women, who from different backgrounds and cultures, are willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of country, duty, and loved ones.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I love this story and enjoyed reading it.

What I love about the story:

1. I don’t feel I will ever tire of reading World War II stories. My dad was a veteran of World War II, D-Day Omaha Beach, and the Battle of the Bulge. He shared many stories with me as a child and adult. I know his stories. I want to know other people’s stories which includes historical fiction.

2. Grace Healey is a perfect example of a grieving widow. I feel Pam Jenoff portrayed an accurate widow who is displaced, wounded, grieving, lonely, and at a loss in how to move forward. This includes not knowing even where to begin. I personally know a woman who lost her husband on the USS Indianapolis. She still grieves. She went on with life. She married and had children. But he was a great love-a great friend-a young love-who is lost to her. Grace and my friend show similar behavior. I feel Grace is an accurate and real character in this story.

3. I love it that romance is not the focus. So often romance is introduced in a story, and it can and often does take over.

4. I love it that Grace realizes she must move forward in life, but it must be “her own story.”

5. This is a minor detail, but I love it that Grace is defined as having “corkscrew hair.” I don’t think this has been described before in a story I’ve read. Grace is given a minor detail, yet it’s a difference compared to how other female characters are described. I love this minor detail.

6. I enjoyed reading about the instructions of operating a wireless.

7. I love the friendship between the women. Some of them upon meeting show a kindred spirit.

8. The dialogue and descriptions are wonderful and engaging. It felt easy to picture the scenes in my mind.

What I feel needs clarification:

At the start of the story, I didn’t quite understand what had happened to Grace. What I mean is Grace has marks on her neck, she had been drinking the night before, she is sluggish, and she is hungover. My first thought is she had been abused. My second thought is she has an alcohol problem. And she blames a person named Mark who I don’t know yet. My point is I feel lost at the start. Later, I put the event all together and understand. I don’t like feeling lost especially at the start of a story.

Final Thoughts:

Eleanor is too cool. Chilly. Icy. However, her personality fits her character.

Mark is grieving too. I feel sorry for him.

This is a story I’d like to read a part 2 so I will know what Grace becomes.

Themes in the story: war, peace, grieving, courage, heroism, resistance, honor, judgment, injustice, justice, dreams, trust, temptation, charity, hope, and acceptance.

Quote of the Week

Wedding day. December 18, 1982. That newly-married-teenage couple has absolutely no idea what they’ve just done. They don’t have a clue about all the future surgeries (including body parts that will be removed), sending a son to war twice, grandchildren, a grandchild with autism, a grandchild with depression, health problems, debts, paychecks that after paying the bills left $10 for groceries, no wiggle room in the budget for eating out, caring for parents, the death of parents, the death of dreams, expectations unmet, loud snoring at night, stinky farts that caused a first argument, foolish choices, buying a first home and then finding termites on move in day, Christmas when we couldn’t afford a tree, Christmas when we were separated, and a whole lot of daily living.

I am not posting a quote from someone else this week. I am sharing from my own simple but well-lived life. There is a secret in marriage that is usually not talked about because it is so simple no one could then earn a penny from writing a book. The secret is there is no secret. A marriage that stays together, even past 10 years, is a miracle.

We were teenagers with a baby on the way when we married.
We had nothing in common and that has not changed.
We came from different church denominations.
We have different political beliefs.
We came from different family backgrounds.
We communicated differently.
We looked at marriage differently.
And, yet, here we are, still married.

A few things I have learned. It has taken longer to accept.

1. People really do change, and they don’t always change in a positive way.
2. Sometimes we do everything good or to our best. And we give it our all. Yet, the marriage still does not last.
3. Love is not a predictor of a lasting marriage. I’ve met so many people who still love someone they are no longer married to. Maybe that person died. Maybe they divorced. But they still love that person. So, loving the other person doesn’t mean the marriage will make it. There are other factors that determine the outcome.
4. I’ve often heard that a married couple should spend time together in a common interest like a hobby. This sounds wonderful. But what about all those couples who don’t have a common interest or don’t care to contribute to have a common interest? Just let this go. Give each other some space and be at peace.
5. Watch your language in front of the children. What I mean is don’t put the other spouse down or criticize or be vengeful in front of children (children of any age.) Your kids will remember. In 50 years, they will still remember.
6. What you cook for dinner is not as important as eating together. Eat together in communion. Eat together even if it’s a sandwich. Eat together even it lasts a few moments.
7. I’ve heard it said the married couple should always put each other first. Pooh. Often children need to come first. For example, children need to eat. I know this is a basic thing but sometimes basic needs to be reminded. Sick children take priority in the home. Parents should be in partnership (even if not living together) for the sake, welfare, and love of their kids.
8. Communication is hard work. No one reads minds. Say how you feel but in a few words. Get to the point. What you say comes across better if you begin the sentence with, “I feel….” Men tend to zone out after a few words. Seriously. People usually remember the first few words you say and the rest they don’t hear because they are thinking about their response.
9. Choose battles wisely. And many things are just chicken feathers (unimportant and frothy.)
10. Find things to be thankful and focus on them. Don’t forget to say thank you because thankfulness literally changes the mood of the entire home.
11. Your spouse or partner is not the end-all answer in life. They will not grant every wish. They will not meet every desire. They do not complete you. You will not receive unconditional love because that is not possible. People are people. People are frail, weak, indecisive at times, get tired and sick; and two people who live together will at some point get on each other’s last nerve.
12. Laughing together is so important. My husband has a sarcastic-wise-guy sense of humor. I laugh even if it is not funny. I laugh because laughing feels good and its healthy. I laugh because it is something we can do together. I laugh because I love him. Life is so serious. It feels good to laugh. It feels uplifting. Laughter is medicine. Laughter is powerful.
13. Marriage is like life itself. There are different stages in marriage. No stage lasts indefinitely. Some stages are enjoyable. Some stages are terrible. Hang on. If possible, hang-on together.
14. Respectful and honorable words are powerful. Talking down to someone means you’ve just lost your integrity and have impacted your legacy.