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Prince Caspian–the return to Narnia

Prince Caspian

by C. S. Lewis

A year after the events of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis returns Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy to Narnia. In Prince Caspian, pulled there by a magical force as they are waiting for their trains to take them to boarding school, they suddenly find themselves in the ruins of their old castle Cair Paravel, hundreds of years later in Narnian time. 

Through many adventures, the children meet Prince Caspian, the rightful king of Narnia, and enthrone him, replacing his usurper, his Uncle Miraz. There is a wonderful cast of characters in this novel. Prince Caspian’s tutor, Dr. Cornelius, is instrumental in helping him escape certain death. The creatures of Narnia range from mythical, such as Bacchus, Dryads, Dwarfs, and Centaurs, to talking animals of a larger size than normal. Reepicheep is a valiant and honorable leader of mice. Trufflehunter is a kind and friendly badger. The mighty lion Aslan appears to Lucy first and the other children don’t believe her. What follows is each one of them coming to believe in Aslan in their own way and a great battle between the Narnians and the Telmarines. 

As the fantasy continues, so do the fun and adventure. I am excited to read another tale by the master storyteller C. S. Lewis. He excels in creation of characters, setting, and plot, and most especially in weaving adventure and theology seamlessly leaving the reader with much to contemplate. 

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Fiction, Christian

Notes: This book is a part of The Chronicles of Narnia. There is debate even today over the order one should read these books in as the series contains a prequel and a book that relates to Narnia but does not include the children as major characters. Having not read the whole series yet, I can not chime in on that debate, but I do strongly encourage the reading of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which I suspect will be my favorite, prior to reading Prince Caspian.

This series is often listed as Children’s Fiction, but is really appropriate for all ages with adults reading it on a different level from children.

Publication:  1951—Harper Collins

Memorable Lines:

“Where do you think you saw him?” asked Susan.  “Don’t talk like a grown-up,” said Lucy, stamping her foot. “I didn’t think I saw him. I saw him.”

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”  “That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.  “Not because you are?”  “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

The sort of “History” that was taught in Narnia under Miraz’s rule was duller than the truest history you ever read and less true than the most exciting adventure story.

Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Cafe–finding the magic in others

Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Cafe

by Jessica Redland

Tara has worked hard to make The Chocolate Pot Cafe a success, but there are lots of heartaches and pain in her story. She has isolated herself on a personal level and focused on her professional life in response to the devastating events of her childhood and the wicked betrayals in her youth, betrayals perpetrated by those she had reason to trust the most. Now she has determined that if she doesn’t let anyone past her barriers, she can’t be hurt again.

In Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Cafe, Jessica Redland has crafted a moving tale of a girl with a Pollyanna type personality, always looking for the good in others and in situations. As a child, she is wrapped in her father’s love and in the black cloak that surrounds her mother who battles depression and mental illness.

When disaster strikes the family, Tara is introduced to the foster care system. After several rough starts, she finds a real home with a loving family. Tara is finally convinced to open up to her friend Carla about her abusive experiences with her foster sister and with her own husband. In three different sessions, Tara manages to relate the trauma. In the telling, it is clear that Tara is a courageous young woman.

Another complication to the story is the return to Whitsborough Bay of Jed, the former owner of her cafe who scammed Tara during the purchase. There are many delightful characters who see Tara for what she is—kind, intelligent, caring, humble, generous, and innovative. A favorite character is Hercules, Tara’s Flemish Giant house rabbit.

Although there are difficult parts of the book that are hard to read, they are important in understanding why Tara is the way she is. Readers will enjoy following Tara’s growth as she learns to open her heart and take a chance on people again.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Boldwood Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult)

Publication:   September 8, 2020—Boldwood Books

Memorable Lines:

There was no need for anyone to know anything about me outside of work. I let them see what I wanted them to see: a successful entrepreneur, an excellent chef, and a fair boss who stood for no nonsense. When you let people in—fully in—they have a habit of letting you down, so it’s easier to keep them at arm’s length. That way, they won’t break your heart.

…for the first time ever, I realised that my past had the power to do good. Instead of hiding from it, I could harness it and help others face their future.

“Facebook isn’t real, you know.” “What do you mean?” “It’s all about what people want others to see…most people I know use it to present the shiny side of life…And because it’s accompanied by a fanfare and smiles, we’re all fooled into thinking that everyone has a better life than us.”

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe–a classic

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the book most people think of when there is mention of C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.  It is, in fact, the first book he wrote in this popular series, although later he wrote a prequel. I had read the fantasy many years ago. Reading it again was an absolute delight. The erudite medieval literature professor (at Oxford and later at Cambridge) and Christian theologian was a premier storyteller. He engages the reader regardless of age, in the plot, characters, and setting from the first page where he explains that air-raids during the war send four children out of London to live with an old Professor. While playing hide-and-seek, the youngest discovers a magical world accessed through a wardrobe.

From there proceeds an enjoyable story centered around the forces of good and evil. The White Witch is the epitome of evil—beautiful, but cold and cruel. She is a mistress of trickery ensnaring Edmund, the next to the youngest, in a web of deceit, captivating him with delicious Turkish Delight. Aslan is a lion, and he stands for good, rescuing those turned into statues by the White Witch and sacrificing himself.

Part of the beauty of this masterpiece is that it can be read on several levels. C.S. Lewis says in his dedication of the book that “some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” That is where I found myself during this reading, but I also read it for its theological underpinnings. Whatever your purpose in reading, you will find The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe both entertaining and fulfilling.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Fantasy, Christian

Notes: I read the 50th anniversary edition of the book. The backline illustrations were by Pauline Baynes who was the first illustrator for The Chronicles of Narnia, and the cover art was by Chris Van Allsburg.

Publication: 1950—Harper Collins

Memorable Lines:

“And she has made a magic so that it is always winter in Narnia—always winter, but it never gets to Christmas.”

“…if, I say, she had got into another world, I should not be at all surprised to find that the other world had a separate time of its own; so that however long you stayed there it would never take up any of our  time.”

I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been—if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you—you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.

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